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Hon Fred Opolot

MPs Decry Deplorable state of Uganda’s Foreign Missions

by Max Pat
posted onApril 11, 2024
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Members of Parliament have decried the deplorable state of Uganda’s foreign missions which are characterised by dilapidated infrastructure and transport deficiencies.

The MPs were debating the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Ministerial Policy Statements for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Uganda’s foreign missions for the Financial Year 2024/2025.

While presenting the report during the plenary sitting of Thursday, 11 April 2024, the deputy chairperson of the committee, Hon. Fred Opolot, noted that several of Uganda’s properties abroad including consulates and official residences are in a deplorable state and some of them have even been condemned by the host governments.

For example, it was noted that the Head of Uganda’s Mission to the United Kingdom-London stayed in a hotel for about one year because the official residence was dilapidated and unsafe for human occupation. Later on, funds were availed to the Mission to rent for the High Commissioner until the official residence was fully renovated.

MPs recommended that foreign missions be adequately funded in the next financial year to ensure service delivery and save the country from international embarrassment.

“Foreign missions have not been well facilitated, for example, our embassy in Pretoria is serving many other neighbouring countries, however, it is not well facilitated to reach those other countries...In this regard, I concur with the report that those missions should be well facilitated so that our citizens in those countries get the services,” said Hon. Brahan Siraji Ezama (NRM, Aringa County).

Other missions abroad with dilapidated buildings include; Dar- es Salaam, Pretoria, Cairo, Washington, New York, Ottawa and Copenhagen.

Annually, government incurs rental costs amounting to Shs44.4 billion to most of the properties housing chanceries, official residences and staff quarters in various countries where its missions are located. To overcome this, the foreign affairs ministry has emphasized acquisition and development of properties abroad to save rental expenditures and generate revenue.

Uganda’s foreign missions are not only grappling with the challenge of infrastructure. According to the committee report, some missions do not have official representational and utility vehicles.

“This is very embarrassing because some Heads of Missions use public means to perform mission duties, for instance, the Ambassador in Algeria has used taxis for eight years,” Hon. Opolot said. Hon. Jonathan Odur (UPC, Erute South County) said the foreign missions should be supported to provide vehicles for the diplomats, while Hon. Rose Fortunate Nantongo (DP, Kyotera District) noted that Saudi Arabia, despite having 13 states and a core country in labour externalization, has only one vehicle for its mission which is in a dire state.

Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Muwada Nkunyingi (NUP, Kyadondo County East) called for realignment of Uganda’s foreign missions to meet international standards.

“Our mission in Russia is the same mission accredited to cover Ukraine yet the two countries are at war. There must be realignment of foreign missions as we pursue enhanced funding,” he said.

He also expressed concerns about Uganda's passport ranking index which he said is lower than the other neighbouring countries like Kenya and Tanzania. Kenya and Tanzania ranked 8th and 10th countries respectively, with the strongest passports in Africa while Uganda ranked 16th, according to the 2024 report released by Henley & Partners.

The Minister of State for Regional Affairs, Hon. John Mulimba, said there is no harm in having one mission representing more than one country.

“Uganda is not concerned about the quarrels between the two countries and we are members of the Non-Allied Movement, so we don’t poke our noses in the affairs of other countries,” he said.

He urged Parliament to consider providing funds to foreign missions to facilitate them to issue passports on-site on behalf of the Directorate of Immigration Control (DCIC).

The budget projection for the foreign affairs ministry for FY 2024/2025 stands at Shs30.2 billion from Shs29.9 billion in FY 2023/2024, while foreign missions’ projections stand at Shs266.4 billion with a funding gap of Shs21 billion for unfunded priorities.

 

 

 

(Source: Parliament)

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