Activists under the their umbrella body Civil Society Budget Advocacy (CSBAG) have asked government to take action against permanent secretaries who fail to adequately plan and start asking for supplementary budgets.
Julius Mukunda, the chief executive officer at CSBAG, said it is unacceptable that considering approved and pending requests, the total FY2017/18 supplementary budget to date will be Shs 724.56 billion.
Addressing the press at CSBAG offices in Kampala, Mukunda said that this would be not a problem if supplementary budgeting guidelines were followed. But he said many Public Financial Management (PFM) Act 2015 rules are flawed.
A supplementary budgeting is a mechanism that allows for financing of events and occurrences during a financial year that were not foreseeable or predictable and so were not allocated funds during budget formation.
“Supplementary expenditure shows poor planning, should only be approved with sanctions to the accounting officers responsible for the requesting entity; how can government borrow to pay salaries as if you didn’t plan for them?” he wondered.
“The law allows for expenditure of up to three percent of the national budget without parliamentary approval. However, the PFM regulations are specific about supplementary budgets; they should be allowed only in unforeseeable and unavoidable [circumstances] but we continue to see salaries and allowances on supplementary schedules.”
According to CSBAG, National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) got a supplementary of 9.9 billion as allowances in the FY2017/18; Bugiri and Masindi districts took Shs 291 million for payment of utility bills.
“This signals budget indiscipline among spending agencies and risks to erode the motivation for institutions to plan and budget meticulously; after all, they can ask for a supplementary budget one month into the financial year,” said David Walakira, a programmes coordinator at CSBAG
“In the FY 2017/18, the president’s office has supplementary budget of Shs 2.3 billion for development of an anti-tick vaccine by a Ugandan Scientist based in Makerere’s College of Veterinary Medicine for large scale production and costs of the Amuru land valuation.”
Activists’ think such cases highlights why institutions have continued to fail. One would expect that National Agricultural Research Organization (Naro) would take the lead in such research undertakings but for the president’s office to give this [anti-tick vaccine development] as a donation to Makerere weakens the research function of Naro.
Walakira said the ministry of Finance pointed out the vice of poor estimation of wage requirements by accounting officers and as such threatened sanctions if this went on, but it should not stop at threats.
The ministry of Energy (23.7 per cent), Uganda Police (11.3 per cent), National Medical Stores (9.1 per cent) and Parliamentary Commission (7.3 per cent) take the lion’s share of the supplementary budget.
Mukunda said none of these organisations’ expenditure qualifies to be supplementary.