By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Government has been urged to make good use of the Contingency Fund as provided for in the law to mitigate natural disasters.
Section 26 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), 2015 as amended provides for a Contingency Fund equivalent to 0.5 per cent of the appropriated annual budget to respond to natural disasters.
During the plenary sitting on Thursday, 30 March 2023, Members of Parliament inquired why the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) was struggling to finance its plans intended to manage natural disasters in the country despite the existence of the emergency fund.
This is after the Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Hon. Esther Anyakun revealed that her ministry has not received any funding from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to implement the Disaster Risk Management plan since it was approved by Cabinet on 11July 2022.
Anyakun was presenting a report on government’s plan of action to disaster risk reduction and management.
Anyakun said despite the financial shortfalls, her ministry has continued to produce and disseminate the Uganda National Integrated Early Warning Systems (U-NIEWS) bulletin with information on various cross-sectoral hazards.
She said OPM in coordination with Ministry of Water and Environment has installed two flood early warning systems on the sub catchments of Aswa and Manafwa and a similar system is being installed on the Nyamwamba sub catchment.
“The Early Warning Systems are expected to contribute to greater prediction of future flood events in the surrounding districts affected by those rivers,” Anyakun said.
“The ministry [of disaster] seems not to be having money yet PFMA provides for a Contingency Fund. This is the command of the law. The Disaster Ministry should not be requesting for money when these emergencies occur,” Hon. Paul Omara (Indep., Otuke County) said.
Amolatar District Woman Representative, Hon. Agnes Apea expressed reservations about the ministry’s capacity to manage the aftermath of disasters.
“For the last 10 years, you have not received money to manage disasters, how will you manage the effects of disasters? We should not be looking at disasters in the context of providing food and emergency relief items but also in the destruction of the infrastructure as a result of the disasters,” Apea said.
State Minister of Finance in charge of Planning, Hon. Amos Lugoloobi said that his ministry has over the last two financial years made efforts to release the contingency funds amidst financial constraints.
“This year, Shs62 billion was appropriated and Shs40 billion has been released so far and accountability is awaited before subsequent releases are done,” he said.