By Max Patrick Ocaido
PARLIAMENT. A loan request of Shs380bn by the Ministry of UPDF/ Defense as classified expenditure has been rejected.
The parliamentary committee on National Economy on Wednesday declined to approve the loan advising that the request is funded through the national budget.
Officials from Ministry of Defense led by Permanent Secretary Rosette Byengoma and state minister of finance in charge of planning David Bahati were appearing before the committee chaired by Nakaseke North MP Syda Bumba requesting the approval of borrowing from the domestic market.
The MPs questioned Byengoma as to why the Ministry did not budget for this classified expenditure despite its urgency. They also probed her to explain over Shs1trn classified expenditure that was approved to the ministry last year through a supplementary budget.
In response, Byengoma said that only Shs300bn was given to them leaving a huge shortfall.
“We requested for this supplementary because we were looking for strategic equipment and we requested Finance ministry to give us Shs1.66trn but because the available funds were not adequate, we were only given Shs300bn. So what we are asking now is a top-up of what we were given in the budget this financial year,” Byengoma said.
Minister Bahati said that the country’s financial standing does not allow the government to fund this security expenditure entirely and urged the MPs to consider their request.
“This is a classified expenditure, it’s urgent and it’s for the security of this country and we are putting this request to you as leaders of this nation to consider it,” Babahti said.
His efforts however landed on MPs’ deaf ears who said that they needed to first sign what they understand and urged that their ‘classified’ sub-committee first needs to scrutinize the request.
“There is fear of signing something that you do not understand. We first need to get a nod from the sub-committee for us to be comfortable on signing it since it is a classified expenditure,” Peter Sematimba (Busiro South MP) said.
MPs on the committee who include Sam Bitangaro (Bufumbira South), Keefa Kiwanuka (Kiboga East), Lawrence Bategeka (Hoima Municipality) and Herbert Ariko (Soroti Municipality) voted in favor of the sub-committee to examine this classified loan before it is approved.