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MPs demand justification to increase Uganda Airlines budget

Hon. Tony Awany (right) and Hon. Roland Ndyomugenyi consulting one another at the Budget Committee meeting.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Members of Parliament on the Budget Committee have asked government to justify the continuous capitalisation of Uganda National Airlines, following the proposal to increase the airline’s budget in the 2024/2025 financial year.

The budget increase is entailed in the report of the Committee on Physical Infrastructure on the National Budget Framework Paper for the Ministry of Works and Transport.

Hon. Tony Awany, the committee chairperson, presented the report before the budget committee on 16 January 2024.

“The Government intends to increase the airline’s funding by Shs34.9 billion, raising the budget to Shs120.9 billion. These resources will be used to cater for payments to the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, wages, staff training, procuring aviation fuel, insurance cover for aircraft, Inflight catering, and others,” Awany said.

His report left MPs on the Budget Committee concerned about the airline’s profitability, citing ineptitudes in its operations.

“We need to understand the Government investment in the airline; how many shares does the Government have? How much do they intend to invest in the short term, midterm, and long term, and which funding vehicle,” asked Hon. Dickson Kateshumbwa (NRM, Sheema municipality).

Citing the airline’s inefficiencies, members said government needed to demonstrate the airline’s likelihood of breaking even, as its basis for continuous funding.

“When you talk of flying to destinations such as Dubai, anyone can understand. We want to know what informed the airline to open flights to places such as Abuja,” said Hon. Remigio Achia, the Deputy Chairperson of the Budget Committee.

Achia complained of flight delays, saying he has had up to two hours of flight delays with Uganda Airlines. “I have recently used the airline thrice; I do not understand why they are always late; for an hour, even two hours, you expect to fly out at 8 p.m., but you end up flying at 10 p.m.,” said Achia.

Members were also concerned that out of the Shs1.83 trillion allocated to Uganda National Roads Authority, government is silent on the Kampala-Jinja Expressway and the standard gauge railway, which they said should be prioritised.

“Right now, you take more than five hours to drive from Kampala to Jinja; the road is narrow and has broken down in some places. There are many cars and accidents; I did not hear it among the priorities in the next budget,” said Hon. Moses Magogo (NRM, Budiope East County).

Legislators complained that government is instead budgeting for non-critical areas such as the Shs5 billion meant to increase road user behaviour and knowledge.

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SOURCE: Uganda Parliament

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