Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament on Thursday resolved to reject a motion tabled by the Minister of State for Planning David Bahati which sought to re-allocate funds in the financial year 2020/2021 budget to operationalize the newly created cities.
On 28th April, Parliament approved the creation of 15 new cities. Out of these, a total of 10 became operational on 1st July 2020 and these include Masaka, Jinja, Mbale, Arua, Gulu, Lira, Fort Portal, Mabarara, Soroti and Hoima.
The other cities including Entebbe, Moroto, Nakasongola, Kabale and Wakiso will come into effect in 2023. However, the creation of these cities did not come with a budget raising questions about government’s funding plan.
Bahati said that his motion sought to reallocate funds since the financial year 2020/2021 had been approved by parliament before the new cities became operational. He said that money that was allocated to municipalities needed to be diverted.
The Minister said that Fort Portal Municipality had been allocated Shillings 21.6 billion, Arua Shillings 26 billion, Jinja Shillings 35 billion, Mbale 42.6 billion and others.
According to Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, the Minister’s motion could not amend the Appropriation Act for the current financial year. She said that the Ministry of Finance needed to first table before parliament a law to facilitate the creation of authorities for the new cities and also an amendment to the Appropriation Act.
She also said that Parliament had not been availed with the list of accounting officers for the new cities who would be accountable for the funds once provided.
Kadaga emphasized the need for government to follow the law and not to just present a motion.
The Speaker’s statement followed opposition from MPs across the political divide who demanded a clear process for the operationalisation of the new cities.
Dokolo South MP Felix Okot Ogong raised a procedural matter questioning whether a motion could reallocate funds in the budget.
Wilfred Niwagaba, the Shadow Attorney General also wondered whether government had dissolved the existing municipalities which were created under the Local Government Act.
Bahati insisted that the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) allows parliament to authorize the Minister of Finance to re-allocate funds. However, Kadaga insisted that the Minister needs the Appropriation Act to provide funds for the new cities.