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MPs catch Sh500bn ‘mistakenly’ given to defense budget


Museveni was planning to use money to buy spying equipment, say MPs

As scrutiny of the 2017/18 budget to be passed in June continue, MPs on the Defence and Internal Affairs Committee of Parliament have unearthed Shs500 on the Defense budget which the Ministry of Finance agrees should not be there.

The MPs eagle eyes landed on the Shs500 billion while closely scrutinising the Defense Budget which had gone up by a whopping 23% from Shs1.4 trillion to Shs1.9 trillion in the next, at a time when most ministries are to suffer sharp budget cuts. However, when the Minister of State for Defence, Bright Rwamirama, and the new Chief of Defence Forces, Gen.David Muhoozi, appeared before the committee, it declined to approve the budget claiming the officials had exaggerated their planned expenditure by Shs500 billion.

Amos Lugoloobi, the chair of Parliament’s Budget Committee, which compiled a final report with recommendations including deducting from the budget the Shs.500 billion, told The Independent that putting the money on the Defense Ministry budget “was an error that Finance had made and we told them to correct it”.

Kenneth Mugambe, the Director Budget also told The Independent that the figure had come up because of reconciliations around money the government expected from donors for the African Union in Somalia (Amisom).

But one MP, Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala County) who sits on the Defense Committee, told The Independent that the money was to be spent on “political things like acquiring espionage equipment.”

Whatever the explanation is for Shs500 billion `wrongly’ showing up on the Defense Ministry budget, its removal by MPs is a major blow to the ministry. It means the ministry will now operate with resources, which are Shs. 500 billion less than what had been planned.

Following on MP Kivumbi’s line of reasoning, some knowledgeable sources have told The Independent that scrapping that money has frustrated Ministry of Defence plans to buy new equipment, including gadgets to spy on politicians. Insiders told The Independent that President Museveni last year directed that the procurement of these spying gadgets be done through the classified budget of Defence and cabinet approved the directive.

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