Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have told Members of Parliament that the fleet of vehicles used for transporting CHOGM dignitaries is no longer fit for purpose.
The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Vincent Bagiire, told the Foreign Affairs Commitee of Parliament on Thursday that the fleet that they are using was procured prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting-CHOGM, which was hosted in 2007. He says that 14 years later, the vehicles are now in a sorry state and an embarrassment to the government.
“We have written to the Ministry of Finance about this, there was a situation where we were transporting a guest and the vehicle broke down and it was an embarrassment, he was a VIP and on that account, we were very emphatic on this, Foreign Affairs needs its fleet to take care of dignitaries,” he said. However, Bagiire says that they have not yet got a response from the Ministry of Finance.
Led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Gen. Jeje Odongo, the officials had appeared before the commitee which is currently considering the Budget Framework Paper for the coming financial year 2022/2023.
During the meeting, Mityana South MP Richard Lumu questioned why the Ministry doesn’t budget and have its own fleet since it is the one that manages dignitaries.
But Jeje Odongo told MPs that classifying the ministry as consumptive has led to continued budget cuts which is prohibiting a lot of work. He says that they are discussing with the National Planning Authority (NPA) and the Ministry of Finance to change this classification.
“In this budget circular, there is a deduction further of the resources we have been complaining are not sufficient. This is because of the erroneous understanding that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as classified by NPA is a consumptive ministry,” he noted.
Odongo demonstrated that they are not simply consumptive but also do generate income for the country by their coordinating role and enable entities in Uganda to reach agreements, sign contracts amounting to USD 2 billion.
He says that travel for the Ministry headquarters and the Embassies has been cut by up to 16.1 billion Shillings, and they can no longer travel to do diplomacy which is the core of the work of Foreign Affairs.
The minister also called for Parliament’s support for the Ministry to acquire a 2.5 million US Dollars building in Canberra, Australia, housing the Uganda High Commission, since the owner is selling it off, and the Embassy doesn’t need to be displaced.
Pingire County MP Fred Opolot says that the issue of classifying the Ministry as consumptive has been going on for a long time. Norah Bigirwa, the Committee Chairperson said that they would take up the matter and engage with NPA and Foreign Affairs.