By Max Patrick Ocaido
There is no budgetary allocation for salaries of the recently Local Defense Unit (LDUs) force, Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, Adolf Mwesige says.
Mwesige said this while appearing before the Parliamentary Committee of Defence and Internal Affairs to present their 2019/2020 Ministerial policy statement. He said that salaries for soldiers and LDUs amounting to Shs80.4bn remains as unfunded priorities in FY2019/2020.
“In the course of 2018/2019, there arose unforeseen security situations that required recruitment of LDUs to fill the security gaps. Their wage requirement has not been catered for in the budget for 2019/2020,” Mwesige said.
While presenting their Budget Framework paper early this year, the Ministry expressed concerns that they are having a shortfall in funds for LDUs in which Shs9.25bn is meant to cater for their salaries while Shs12.6bn is needed for Kampala deployment and Shs14bn is required for their uniforms. The LDUs also need Shs49.3bn for their food during their training which is all not provided for in the next FY.
MPs on the committee expresses fears that deploying LDUs without a salary could pose a security threat to the country where the officers could resort to staging armed robberies or hiring guns to criminals.
“I have seen them (LDUs) already been deployed, how are they being paid? We should find money and ensure they are paid.” Fred Mwesigye (Nyabushozi County) said.
The Under-Secretary at Ministry of Defence, Edith Buturo refuted reports that the current LDUs are not paid.
“For the LDUs who have just been passed out, their money has been approved to the Ministry of Defence to cover, we had actually planned to pay them for three months and the directive from the Commander-in-Chief is to pay for the six months and we are going to pay in full,” Buturo said.
Government zeroed on recruiting 24,000 LDUs following rampant assassinations that rocked the country between 2017 and 2018 including the murder of Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga and senior police officer Muhammed Kirumira. The LDUs will receive Shs200,000 as monthly salary.