Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs has defended its new budget proposals
for the Financial Year 2019/2020, which is a Shs2 trillion increase from what
was indicated in the recently approved Budget Framework Paper.
Defence Minister Adolf Mwesige said the upward revision of the budget followed Cabinet consent, and in view of “internal and external security threats”.
“The budget exercise is a process; the additional figure
to Shs3.5 trillion was considered by Cabinet and approved…the final budget is not yet read by the President,” said Mwesige.
Mwesige led a team comprising Defence State Minister (Veteran Affairs) Bright Rwamirama, Deputy Chief of Defence Forces Lt Gen Wilson Mbadi among other senior military officials and technocrats before the House Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs, now scrutinising budget proposals for the next financial year.
Mwesige denied claims that the proposed increment violates the Public Finance Management Act.
“I don’t see anything illegal about it and the question is whether it is justifiable…there is no illegality in what we have done,” he said.
Earlier, Shadow Internal Affairs Minister Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi (DP, Butambala) took issue with the increase, calling it an abuse of the Budget Framework Paper approved by Parliament.
“We are talking about a budget increase of Shs2 trillion yet there was no envisaged increment on the revenue side; you are taking away money meant for service delivery,” said Kivumbi.
“My view is that you need the authority of the Speaker,” he added.
Kivumbi said despite an upsurge in the recruitment of auxiliary forces such as the Local Defence Unit personnel who have been deployed in Kampala and its outskirts, reports of murders were unrelenting.
To buttress his claim, Muwanga tendered a document he said has evidence on the reports of the killings.
MP Brig Gen Felix Kulayigye (UPDF) dismissed Kivumbi’s claims, saying the document presented contains no reports of murders.
Rwamirama said the increase in the budget is meant to shore up the capability of the forces to defend the country against internal and external security threats.
“Internal threats are threats of a military nature that we have inside and everybody knows that,” he said.
Sources attribute the steep increase in the budget to regional security challenges, especially with the volatile eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where President Yoweri Museveni accused the United Nations of ‘preserving terrorists’ during his State of the Nation Address last year.
In an address to Parliament on national security, Museveni said the security establishment would be relying on technologically advanced equipment, which he said are easy to maintain and cost effective.
Parliament has up to 31st May 2019 to pass the National Budget for the next Financial Year.