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Councilors defer Mpigi district budget over lack of quorum

Mpigi district finance committee chairperson Cyrus Baker Ssempijja addresses the District Council budget meeting. URN photo

Mpigi, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | At least seven councillors have petitioned the Mpigi Chief Administrative Officer challenging the legality of the district’s budget for the financial year 2022/23.

Mpigi district council passed a 38.8 billion Shillings budget on Friday amid grumbling among leaders who accused the district executive of undermining the finance committee report and recommendations on the budget allocations as well as denying them a chance to debate during the council meeting.

The budget presented by the district secretary for finance, Harriet Nalumu shows that estimates worth 1.13Bn Shillings will be raised from local revenue, 36.4 billion Shillings from government transfers while1.32 billion Shillings is expected to come from donors. Nalumu said that the district will target sand mines and stone quarries as well as taxes on parking and markets as their major revenue sources.

But six of the councillors walked out of the council in protest and later accused Ronald Kaggwa, the speaker of the council of taking sides while conducting council business. They alleged that the speaker had smuggled the proposals of the executive into the budget, altered the budget committee report and forged signatures for absent members to attain the required quorum for the approval of the budget.

Addressing journalists in Mpigi on Monday, the chairperson of the finance committee Cyrus Baker Ssempijja said that they have asked the CAO to prevail over the Speaker and the executive to halt the implementation of the budget.

Patrick Katende, a councillor representing workers said that the budget is questionable because the council did not have the required quorum. He explained that four of the councillors did not attend the meeting, while six stormed out leaving 15 members out of the 25 who form the council.

Ssempijja said that the chairperson and the Speaker colluded to increase their allowances in contravention of the financial guidelines. He accused the Speaker of declining to give them the opportunity to debate and guide on the allocations which they described as unfair.

According to the councillors, the executive disagreed on the allocation of 30 million Shillings towards a retreat which some had wanted to be added to allowances of the chairperson, the executive and the committees. They said that the money for the retreat is a waste and it ought to have been allocated towards facilitating the chairperson and committees to effectively monitor service delivery within the district.

But Ssejjemba dismissed the councillors complaints citing a lack of evidence. He said that a section of councillors have the ill motive of disorganizing the district activities to frustrate service delivery.

According to Ssejjemba, the increment of fuel facilitation from  800,000 to 2.5 million Shillings is aimed at improving the monitoring and inspection activities. He said that the duty of the council is to serve and deliver to the electorate and that the complaints would not deter their mission.

Paddy Bukenya, the youth councillor blamed colleagues for storming out of the council meeting saying the move would frustrate service delivery to the electorate. He described confusion and disagreements in the council as uncalled for because any failure on the council is blamed on all of them.

A fortnight ago, the councillors unanimously refused to approve and pass the budget citing the failure of the authorities to pay their allowances for the previous sittings.

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