Ugandan Parliament Protests soaring defence budget

Theodore Ssekikubo

NOT ON OUR WATCH: MP Theodore Ssekikubo, one of the legislators suspect taxpayer shillings might end up funding the ruling party operations in next years elections

 

The classified budget of the Ministry of Defence has increased from 342 billion Shillings to 607 billion Shillings drawing protests from lawmakers that the money might be diverted to finance the ruling party National Resistance Movement’s (NRM) activities ahead of the 2016 general election.

The country’s Ministry of Defence 2015/2016 budget estimates presented before Parliament’s Defence and Internal Affairs Committee shows that the bulk of the expenditure will be used to finance operations of the UPDF peace keeping mission in Somalia, Land Forces and purchasing what is registered as confidential Special equipment.

Overall, the Defence Ministry budget has increased to 1.4 trillion Shillings in coming financial year from the current 1.1trillion Shillings. Members of parliament raised queries over the sharp increase: Butambala County MP, Muwanga Kivumbi and Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo said the Defence Ministry may be using classified expenditure as a ploy to secure campaign financing for candidates of the ruling National Resistance Movement.

“We have heard a confession from the Governor Bank of Uganda that there have been problems with money coming from Bank of Uganda during a campaign period. Can you assure the country beyond reasonable doubt that the Ministry of Defence is not a conduit for campaign financing,” MP Kivumbi asked.

Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo accused the Defence Ministry of dishonesty insisting that it allocates money under classified expenditure yet the cash is later used to bankroll operations not listed under that secret spending.“You cannot have a whopping 607 billion Shillings classified because far from performing its duties, you are abusing the classified expenditure,” MP Ssekikubo said.

But Defence Minister Dr. Crispus Kiyonga insisted the money will be used to purchase special equipment- and not financing campaigns. “The budget for Defence will not and has never been for elections. The NRM has always mobilized resources for financing the elections” he said

Kiyonga added “the observation that it is hiking and then coming down is incorrect because this is a purchase of a particular resource which is not going to be repeated so we are conscious of the needs of the economy in other sectors”