Parliament has approved a supplementary expenditure amounting to Shs 377.2 billion meant for, among other items, provision of special meals in the Ministry of Defence.
In the Supplementary Expenditure Schedule No.3 of 2018, Shs369.9 billion is allocated to the Ministry of Defense and Veterans Affairs for “shortfalls on special meals, fuel for land forces, medical products owed to private hospitals, classified expenditure and fuel for air force.”
Parliament chaired by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga was sitting for the first time since the presentation of the national Budget for the financial year 2018/2019 by the Minister of Finance, Hon. Matia Kasaija on Thursday last week.
The remaining Shs7.3b has been channeled to the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development for “settlement of government subsidy to National Housing and Construction Company Limited.”
Budget Committee Vice Chairperson Ignatius Wamakuyu said the Committee scrutinized and approved the expenditure.
MP Muwanga Kivumbi (DP, Butambala), also Shadow Defense and Internal Affairs Minister, okayed the request and shelved a Minority Report he had prepared.
“Given that the matter before us is of security nature, it is imperative that we equip the Executive with any means that is required to defeat the enemy,” said Kivumbi.
He however, warned against domestic borrowing, which Finance State Minister David Bahati admitted to be the source of the appropriation.
The request falls under the category prescribed in Section 25(2) of the Public Finance Management Act, which requires that any supplementary expenditure above 3 per cent of the approved National Budget gets prior approval by Parliament.
Wamakuyu said the latest approval brings the total supplementary expenditure for the closing Financial Year 2017/2018 to Shs1.3 trillion, which alarmed MP Nandala Mafabi.
Mafabi claimed that the soldiers’ request is a smokescreen for foul play, a statement that provoked the ire of UPDF representatives.
“I don’t think Hon Mafabi has an iota of the size of the army…the size of the army in any nation depends on many criteria,” said Maj Gen Pecos Kutesa, an army MP.
Col Flavia Byekwaso, another army MP, said Mafabi is in no position to determine the scale of feeding for the army.
Defense Minister Adolf Mwesige rested the matter, saying Mafabi is “certainly not an authority on determining the quantity of food a soldier should eat.”
Classified expenditure are scrutinized in camera, by a Committee headed by the Speaker of Parliament because it contains matters of national security.
President Yoweri Museveni, who is set to address Parliament on the state of security in the country, vowed to defeat runaway criminality in the country.
Museveni said government defeated “rural terrorism”, and that the recent spate of killings and kidnaps will be a thing of the past.
It is understood that the expenditure is intended to buffer security services in their onslaught against the insurgents.