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Ministry of Finance accused of hijacking road fund mandate

FILE PHOTO: URF executive director, Eng. Michael Odongo. PHOTO via @UIPE_Uganda

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Road Fund (URF) has accused the Ministry of Finance of hijacking its mandate by directly appropriating funds for road maintenance.

The Uganda Road Fund Act, 2008 gives URF the mandate to finance road maintenance of public roads and related activities. It allocates funds to agencies and local governments.

However, a move by the Ministry of Finance to release funds for road maintenance in the financial year 2019/2020 has strongly been opposed by URF.

Appearing before the physical committee on Wednesday, the URF Executive Director, Eng. Michael Odongo wants Parliament to intervene and stop the Ministry of Finance.

Odongo explained that the move will affect implementation and monitoring of road maintenance plans and works, signing performance agreements with designated agencies, enforcing adherence to the performance agreements through monitoring, technical and financial reviews.

The committee chairperson, Kafeero Ssekitoleko asked Odongo to a copy of the letter written to Ministry of Finance over the new move on appropriation of the funds.

However, Buliisa County MP Steven Mukitale wondered whether Ministry of Finance made the move due to the mismanagement at the Road Fund following the sacking of the board chairperson Merian Ssebunya Kemigisha.

Last December, the Minister for Finance, Matia Kasaija asked Kemigisha to vacate the office as board chairperson due to complaints by URF staff to the Inspector General of Government over mismanagement and gross incompetence.

Odongo acknowledged conflicts among board members particularly over recruitment, procurement among others, which have affected the performance of the fund in the past one year.

He, however, says that an interim chairperson, Eng. Alex Onen has been appointed.

Odongo also complained that the budget for the URF has been reduced drastically from 542.5 billion shillings in 2018/2019 to 36.6 billion shillings in the next financial year.

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