Officials from the Ministry of Water and Environment have been put on the spot by the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources for failure to exhaust funds allocated to them in their quarterly budgets.
While analysing the cumulative budget performance for the first quarter for the Financial Year 2022/23, legislators were concerned that Shs11.29 billion of the Shs16.13 billion allocated for contractual arrears was utilised.
Bukimbiri County Member of Parliament, Hon. Eddie Kwizera asked it’s the plans for the remaining funds that had not been exhausted and how the money was kept.
He said that the money may be lying in the ministry’s bank accounts accumulating interest instead of being spent.
Kwizera added that failure to utilise the money may imply that the Ministry of Finance will release less to the Ministry of Water and Environment because of low absorption capacity.
The Committee Chairperson, Hon. Emmanuel Otaala sought clarity on how the funds are kept by the ministry.
“We also want to find out why the ministry failed to exhaust these funds allocated in the quarter,” he added.
The Permanent Secretary, Alfred Okidi said that the ministry has no authority to withdraw or access funds without the intention to spend it.
He said that when they are ready to spend the money, a formal request is sent to the Ministry of Finance which in turn authorises Bank of Uganda to release the funds for its intended use.
“Unspent funds remain in the government Consolidated Fund. The ministry simply issues us an expenditure limit which in this case is the indicative of the Shs16.13 billion,” he said.
He added that the Ministry of Water failed to spend all the money because of glitches in the payment system coordinating authorisation of payments.
“We have faced circumstances where payment requests to the Ministry of Finance have bounced four times. This has been corrected and payments should be successful going forward,” Okidi said.
Moses Ssonko, a Principal Economist from the Finance Ministry stated that the ability of the Ministry of Water to utilise funds allocated to it also depends on their availability in the Consolidated Fund.
“We run a budget dependent on revenue collections which are directed to the consolidated fund. If the collections have been low and the funds are insufficient, we cannot allow the ministry to spend,” Ssonko said.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.