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PAC directs EAC ministry to avail list of subscription fees to regional organizations

FILE PHOTO: Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has directed officials from the Ministry of East African Community Affairs to avail a list of subscription fees paid to different regional organizations that Uganda subscribes to.

Led by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Edith Mwanje, the officials had appeared before PAC-Central Government to answer audit queries raised in the financial year 2017/2018.

Among the observations made by Auditor General John Muwanga was that the Ministry accumulated liabilities totalling 40.45 billion shillings at the close of financial year 2017/2018 and these comprised of payables in respect of outstanding contributions to International Organizations amounting to 21.95 billion and gratuity arrears of 18.5 billion.

He said that the outstanding contributions to International Organizations had increased by 6.54 billion from 15.4 billion shillings reported in financial year 2016/2017 while the gratuity arrears had declined by 26.09 billion shillings.

Muwanga warned that accumulation of outstanding obligations could result in reputational risks as well as litigation cases.

Appearing before the committee on Wednesday, Mwanje explained that the Ministry never received sufficient funds to cover for contributions to the different regional organs and institutions including the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat, the International University Council of East Africa (IUCEA), Lake Victoria Fisheries (LVFO) and others.

She, however, noted that her ministry has continuously discussed with the Ministry of Finance to ensure sufficient budget allocation revealing that recently, the Ministry positively responded by allocating supplementary funding of 6.34 billion to cater for the budget shortfall under contribution to international organization for financial year 2018/2019.

Mwanje further noted that under the budget call circular for the current financial year 2019/2020, Finance Ministry also provided 9 billion Shillings towards arrears for contribution to the East African Community (EAC).

However, PAC Vice Chairperson Okin P.P Ojara together with Mbarara Municipality MP Michael Tusiime said that the growing trend of Uganda’s indebtedness in international organizations was maligning the country’s stature in the international community.

He demanded that an updated schedule of International Organizations that Uganda owes should be availed saying that it is a shame to be part of the EAC if the country is not able to meet its subscription fees.

Failure to pay the country’s subscription fees to different international organizations has of recent dominated PAC.

On Monday, Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Patrick Mugoya revealed that government has set up an inter-ministerial committee to review Uganda’s membership to International Organizations across all government entities.

He said that the committee was reviewing the organizations to which the country is a member and their benefits in order to inform a position on Uganda’s membership interests. The inter-ministerial committee is spearheaded by the Finance Ministry and has representation from all ministries, plus the National Planning Authority (NPA).

The decision comes at a backdrop of reports that Uganda had failed to pay a total of organizations 63 billion Shillings in subscription to different international organizations as at financial year 2014/2015.

Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary Betty Kasimbazi recently told PAC that Uganda’s default puts its voting on critical decisions and debate powers in the different international conferences at risk since countries that do not pay subscriptions are most times not allowed to vote and debate.

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