The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development wants government to plough the revenue from labour export back into the ministry to boost the sector, whose activities have not been budgeted for in the 2023/2024 financial year.
The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Aggrey Kibenge said the sector has earned the country an annual revenue of Shs25 billion arguing that budget cuts will negatively affect its performance. “We have raised Shs 25.2 billion and none of this has been voted back to support those areas that are generating revenue. We cannot expect to be generating that kind of revenue and not improve labour externalization, facilitate safe passage and decent work conditions for our people,” Kibenge said.
Kibenge said this while appearing before the Committee on Gender presenting the ministry’s policy statement for the 2023/2024 financial year on Tuesday, 18 April 2023.
Kibenge said their quest is also justified by failure by the Finance Ministry to honour a Cabinet directive to release Shs4 billion to facilitate the labour externalization function in the previous financial year, and that the same has not been provided for in the 2023/2024.
He requested that the ministry be granted part of their annual revenue collections to ably supervise the labour export sector which he says faces numerous challenges.
He added that government is earning much of the revenue from the export of migrant workers to the Middle East making US$1.2 billion per year and US$796 million from Saudi Arabia annually.
MPs said there was need for urgent inter-ministerial engagements to establish the basis for the budget cuts and the Finance Ministry’s failure to allocate funds approved for the sector. “It is clear that labour externalization is bringing in money and it is actually underfunded. We have the best practices, done a lot of bench marking and Uganda can do better in this area. There is need to cause a meeting between the Gender and Finance Ministries to address the funding issue,” said Hon. Abdulhu Byakatonda (Workers’ Representative).
Byakatonda asked the ministry to fast track the Gender Policy which he said was long overdue, cognizant that the neighboring countries have progressed to having an act on labour export.
The Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Flavia Kabahenda said the Finance Ministry must justify the budget cuts when the reports indicate that Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) is performing above 100 per cent. “How can they say that the economy is limping when URA is over performing and is collecting more than enough?” asked Kabahenda.
She added that, ’the revenue the Gender Ministry is generating is not little money. I think you need to be aggressive; can’t you all raise your voices? Do you fear to annoy people by speaking up? This ministry is really sacrificed for others to flourish’.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.