By Nabusayi L. Wamboka
State House, which caters for the welfare and security of the President and his VP, is perennially underfunded
The Monitor story published under the headline “State House budget hits record Shs 200 billion” (Daily Monitor April 11, 2013) is not only alarming and ill intentioned, it is an honest example of skewed reporting whose aim can only be known to the authors.
In an effort to de-toxicate the public of such hateful and persistent reporting by The Monitor to always bring the name of the President and the Institution of State House into disrepute, I will try to put the simple facts here that the reporter chose to ignore.
The institution of State House is mandated to provide at all times support to the Presidency to facilitate effective and efficient performance of its constitutional and administrative responsibilities and to cater for the welfare and security of the President, the Vice President and their immediate families.
It is worthwhile to point out that while the institution of State House also submits detailed budgets estimates, it has continued to suffer budgetary shortfalls that constantly necessitate supplementary funding every year. This is because of underfunding caused by limitations in resource allocations within ceilings set by the Ministry of Finance.
As in any country, there are always emerging priorities that are not provided for during the budgeting process including security situations, epidemics, Prosperity for All programmes etc.
Thanks to the resilience of the people of Uganda and the support they have rendered to President Museveni, his responsibilities have grown regionally and internationally. As we speak, he is now the chairman, EAC, COMESA, ICGRL and his role in pacifying the region has seen him become a key player on the continent and beyond.
This means the intensity of his programmes is quite high and this creates budgetary pressures under travel abroad and inland, vehicle maintenance and donations. However, this in turn translates to increased peace and security of persons, property and with our neighbours, a growing market for both human resource and our products leading to improved incomes, donations that create a direct link for the President and the people he serves etc.
And then we have the capital requirements. During the financial year for example, State House received Shs 1.6 billion for capital expenditure out of which Shs 1billion was allocated to the Poverty Alleviations Project and yet there were a number of requirements to be procured.
The Poverty Status Report produced by the Ministry of Finance last year indicated that Ugandans living below the poverty line fell to 24.5% (7.5 million) in 2009/2010 from 31.1% (8.5 million) in 2005/06. About one million Ugandans (6.6%) moved out of the absolute poverty bracket (living beyond $1.25 a day) between 2006 and 2010 as a result of the diversified economic activities, a new report.
State House budget performance for the last three years was FY 2009/10 – 144.056bn, FY 2010/11 – 173.779bn and FY 2011/12 – 159.997bn. Despite this trend, State House received an approved budget of Shs 60.234bn for financial year 2012/2013 against an estimated budget of Shs 203bn.
The approved budget was therefore not sufficient and was exhausted by November 2012. Out of the Shs 60.235gn received under the approved budget, 4.637bn was for wages, 53.90bn was for recurrent activities and 1.689gillion was for development requirements.
The supplementary funding of Shs 138.2bn is meant to cater for recurrent expenditure of Shs 128.6bn and development requirements of Shs 9.6bn. What you budget for and what is allegedly passed by parliament is not necessary what the Ministry of Finance approves.
While the Monitor newspaper depicted special meals and drinks as burgers, these are actually meals provided to servicemen and staff on active duty working under exceptional working conditions (e.g. the military during combat operations).
There is no institution including the Monitor publications that has no expenses for printing, stationary, photocopying, binding, office equipment, bad debts, bank charges and other related bank costs and financial and related costs such as loss of funds due to cash shortages, pilferage, thefts and normal losses.
The expenditures on books, periodicals and newspaper are self explanatory, including expenses on computers and ITC services.
While the Monitor depicted welfare and entertainments as dancing, this in effect is official entertainment inland and abroad and can be anything from a simple drink to large international banquets. Uganda has been hosting various international meetings and the President as Head of State has been hosting our guests as he markets our country.
The result has been an inflow of visitors and tourists. The tourism sector is one of the fastest growing sectors that have contributed much to the growth of Uganda’s economy in the year 2012.
According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities sector performing report for the financial year 2011/2012, it shows that tourism contribution to GDP earnings was at 9.0% for 2011 compared to 7.6% in 2010 while the contribution of tourism to foreign exchange increased from US$ 662m in 2010 to US$805m in 2011 representing growth of 21%.
Monitor should put its reporting in context and be seen to be fair.