MPs want budget to reflect Coronavirus situation

Members of Parliament have asked the Executive to withdraw the already laid ministerial policy statements and have them reflect the current coronavirus situation and prioritize the health sector.

The chairperson of the Committee on Health, Hon Michael Bukenya said that while reviewing the budget for the health sector for financial year 2020/2021, the committee was discovered 30 priority areas that government has not funded.

During a sitting of Parliament on Tuesday, 14 April 2020, Bukenya said the committee was disappointed with government for no commitment of improving the health sector.

“For instance, most Health Centre IVs located up country lack fridges to store blood for surgeries, so they keep referring patients to Kampala and yet it requires only shs2.2 billion to install those fridges,” said Bukenya.

He added that, “even with ambulances being bought for COVID-19, there is no commitment that they will be utilised in the next financial year”..

Dr Bukenya faulted government for failing to provide shs3.3billion needed to hire anesthetic officers and nurses that would enable the health centre IVs to carryout surgeries.

Bugweri County MP, Hon Abdu Katuntu called for the recall of ministerial policy statements to have them realigned with the current situation.

“Covid-19 has literally affected all sectors including revenue collection and expenditures. It is time for the Ministry of Finance to recall all ministerial policy statements and reports, instruct accounting officers of ministries to look into their budget priorities and resubmit the budgets,” Katuntu said.

Katuntu said that although Parliament is faced with timelines of the Public Finance Management Act’, ‘the consequence of the virus to the country cannot be underscored. He added that the tax bills should also reviewed. Jinja Municipality East MP, Hon Paul Mwiru urged Parliament to consider re-allocating funds from some ministries to the health sector. He said that part of the budget for the UPDF especially should be re-allocated saying, “now all of us including President Museveni agree that the real war we are fighting is coronavirus”.

Kadaga asked legislators to wait for the report of the Budget Committee before a decision is taken.

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