Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament’s Budget Committee has questioned the Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija on the low funding to the Judiciary despite a recent directive by President Yoweri Museveni for a 800 billion Shilling budget allocation.
Kasaija on Monday appeared before the Committee to present the 3.48 trillion additional budget that has caused an increase of the proposed National Budget for the coming financial year 2021/2022 from 41.29 trillion initially presented by the Minister last week to 44.77 trillion.
Amos Lugoloobi, the Budget Committee Chairperson tasked the Minister to explain why he had undermined the President’s directive to provide more funding to the Judiciary.
He said that his committee together with that of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs recently held a meeting with the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo and other top managers in the Judiciary in which they noted a letter from President Yoweri Museveni directing the Minister of Finance to increase the institution’s budget to 800 billion Shillings.
The proposed budget for the Judiciary for the coming financial year 2021/2022 recently stood at 221.1 billion Shillings and this has now gone up to 373.1 billion, according to the additional budget presented by the Minister to the Budget Committee.
The additional budget details indicate that an additional 152 billion Shillings has been allocated to the Judiciary.
Lugoloobi says that the 152 billion Shillings increment to the Judiciary is way below the expected additional funding of 600 billion to the institution. He wondered whether Minister Kasaija was not in contravention with the President’s directive.
He added that his committee has received full justification why the Judiciary should be adequately funded. Lugoloobi said that the Judiciary is currently operating at only a quarter of its intended capacity due to the low funding yet it is expected to deliver justice in the country.
He said that hearing of several election petitions recently filed after the 2021 general election are yet to be heard due to lack of funding. The Institution received over 100 election petitions to be heard by the High Court and any appeals would be determined by the Court of Appeal.
In response, Minister Kasaija said that in his Saturday meeting with President Museveni, he directed him to do what is feasible according to the available resources. This prompted Lugoloobi to direct that the Minister avails the Committee with minutes of his meeting with the President in regard to Judiciary funding.
Kenneth Mugambe, the Director Budget in the Ministry of Finance said that the required budget by the Judiciary can be addressed in the next 3 financial years.
Patrick Isiagi, the Budget Committee Vice Chairperson said that he was happy that the Finance Minister was trying to strengthen the Judiciary but questioned its efforts towards the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).
On 7th February, Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo interfaced with President Museveni at State House, Entebbe and media reports indicated that their discussion was about the inadequate funding to the JudiciaryUganda Radio Network-URN has also learnt that the Chief Justice has recently met with Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and Parliament Committee Chairpersons on the same matter.
At different occasions, the Chief Justice has appealed to government to provide adequate funding to the Judiciary to facilitate recruitment of more judicial officers to deal with case backlog. By December 2020, 150,654 cases were still stuck in various courts.