By Spy Uganda
The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, has proposed a meeting between the Leader of the Opposition (LoP), Hon. Mathias Mpuuga, and Finance State Minister (Privatisation and Investment) Hon. Evelyn Anite, after an unsatisfactory response to the LoP’s concerns on government’s failure to meet its financial obligations.
In a September 2022 statement presented to Parliament by the Shadow Minister of Finance, Planning and economic Development, Hon. Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi, Hon. Mpuuga accused government of issuing expenditure limits but thereafter failing to make corresponding releases, which he said is responsible for causing financial paralysis in many agencies.
“On 18th July 2022, the Permanent Secretary/Secretary to Treasury communicated expenditure limits for Quarter of Financial Year 2022/2023 amounting to Shs10.45 trillion; ideally, expenditure limits are expected to be translated into releases. Unfortunately, it is not possible to determine how much has so for been released against the expenditure limit,” he said then.
He added: “None the less, what has so for been established is the fact that several local governments are reporting shortages in funding for salary expenses for September 2022.”
To the above claim, Anite said the releases match the expenditure limits set by government.
“Government agencies are able to spend up to the expenditure that has been provided, through submission of warrants and expenditure requisitions; there is therefore no difference between expenditure limits and releases,” she said.
Dissatisfied, Muwanga Kivumbi said the response does not speak to shortfalls that were suffered in the last financial quarter, which he said saw civil servants going without pay in districts like Wakiso.
The Minister of State for Finance in charge of General Duties, Hon. Henry Musasizi, stepped in, and said whereas limits are issued, actual payments are subject to the availability of funds.
“I would like to explain the issue of releases; we have an approved budget, which we subdivide into four quarters, we do releases, which we call cash limits and when entities receive the limits, they begin invoicing or warranting; under normal circumstances, what is warranted should be paid, but under current circumstances, we pay as and when the cash is available,” he said.
Hon. Musasizi added that it is the same situation in the second quarter, except that in this case, Parliament has stepped in with a Shs1.7 trillion budget support loan approved last week.
“We issued releases for Quarter 2, all those have not been cashed; I want to thank you for approving the budget support loan which will go a long way in cashing the warrants,” he said.
Speaker Among applauded Minister Musasizi for his response.
“I want to thank you for being transparent; we need the money, and where you get the money is not our problem; you came here and told us you can collect Shs 25 trillion [in domestic revenue during this financial year],” she said.
On unpaid salaries, Minister Anite acknowledged the challenge and said government will fill the void in the second quarter, which is running currently.
“This [salary shortfall] mostly affected Local Governments, and we are well aware of this issue. To avoid this in the future, we are programming enhanced releases in Quarter Two, to cater for any shortfalls in the First Quarter and providing for adequate salary funding for the second quarter,” she said.
The Speaker guided that the ministry will prepare a statement highlighting the further concerns raised by the Opposition and that a meeting will be called to harmonise the disparate positions at an appropriate time.