Parliament sittings have been deferred for two weeks to allow MPs to assess the performance of the 2022/2023 financial year budget through oversight visits across the country.
The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa who chaired plenary on Tuesday, 31 October 2023, adjourned the House to 15 November 2023.
Tayebwa said that as Parliament starts the new budgeting cycle, there is need for committees to review how this financial year’s Shs52 trillion budget has performed.
“We have started receiving medium term expenditure frameworks, that means the budgeting process has started in Parliament. Money that was appropriated in last financial year, we see reports on paper, but we need to see it on ground,” said Tayebwa.
He added, “I will be joining you on some of those visits so that we see what is done. Can we go and see these important activities for which we appropriated money, if we do it for some time, we shall be able to help, especially on the oversight.”
He said that upon their return, each committee will be required to present findings on the Floor with the aim of improving budget performance.
Relatedly, some lawmakers have urged government to be realistic while making budgets, to avoid cases of shortfalls which subsequently affect service delivery.
Hon. Nathan Byanyima (NRM, Bukanga North County) said that several districts are grappling with poor roads due to failure by the finance ministry to release funds.
“There are no releases, it is air supply. We would rather have a budget that is concentrating on one sector and we have something to feel that has been done rather than every year saying this will be done and we end up not doing anything,” said Byanyima.
Hon. Elijah Mushemeza (Indep. Sheema County South) urged government to ensure that expenditure tallies with available revenue.
Prof. Elijah Mushemeza urged government to ensure expenditure tallies with available revenue
“It is high time for MPs to be realistic, coming up with a budget of Shs52 trillion when we know what the Uganda Revenue Authority collects. Given the debt servicing and the hostile global environment in terms of borrowing, is it still realistic to pass a budget of Shs52 trillion,” he said.
The Deputy Speaker called for smart budgeting, saying that it entails consideration of proposed revenue in tax Bills.
“A good example is when government shows revenue side and expenditure side and says we want to raise this much from taxes but when it comes to handling tax Bills, we reject some amendments which could be worth Shs500 billion and yet we continue to appropriate the actual amount,” he said.
Tayebwa added: “We should now start communicating together. If we reject certain tax proposals, can we have them costed then after they are costed and not adopted, we strike that amount off the budget, otherwise you are appropriating air, and then when the minister starts surprising, we complain.”
The Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development (General Duties), Hon. Henry Musasizi, blamed the challenges on financing of the budget to mismatch between the releases and actual realisation of cash.
“It is not our intention and I want to ask colleagues to understand the circumstances and walk with us because we must speak the same language,” he said.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.