Intelligence body’s annual wages are only Shs. 38 billion
For the last six months intelligence operatives working for the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) have not received salaries and the agency is stuck with no operations’ money, raising concerns in the security establishment, an investigation by The Independent reveals.
Officials had expected to get paid last month but through an internal memo, they were requested to be patient until early next year.
Approved estimates of revenue and expenditure 2016/17 prepared by the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, show that the total budget for ISO is Shs. 60 billion.
Of this, Shs. 38 billion is wage and Shs. 21 is non-wage. That of the External Security Organisation (ESO), its sister body responsible for collecting intelligence beyond the Ugandan borders, is Shs. 27 billion. Shs. 12 billion is wage and Shs. 15 billion is non-wage.
The two bodies fall directly under the office of the President and State House. The budget of State House alone, has over the years swollen to Shs.258 billion—a big chunk of which goes into presidential donations.
For instance, in the 2014/2015 financial year, presidential donations swallowed Shs. 90 billion and required an extra Shs. 65 billion to take care of verified outstanding donations.
Critics are now adding their voice to previous outcry over the ever burgeoning budget for presidential gifts because of the current situation in ISO.
Because of how sensitive the matter is and the secretive nature of these intelligence bodies, none of the officials we talked to was willing to be quoted. Efforts to reach ISO Director General, Brig. Ronnie Balya for a comment were also futile as his known numbers could not go throw. We were informed by his handlers that he was out of the country. A source who is knowledgeable about the dealings of the intelligence body, however, intimated that ISO’s funds had not been released.
Efforts to reach Keith Muhakanizi, the Secretary to the Treasury were also futile as he didn’t return our calls. But Kenneth Mugambe, the Director Budget, rubbished claims that the funds had not been released.
“Whenever we make releases, they are published in newspapers including The Independent,” Mugambe said, “You check those releases and see if we haven’t released the money. We have already released the second quarter.”
According to the releases, State House and Office of the President, where ISO funds are released, have received over 50 percent of their budget. ESO has also received about 50 percent of its budget. ISO is not indicated anywhere.
But many are wondering how such a critical intelligence body can be starved of funds especially given the lingering security threats like terrorism that Uganda faces.
At their prime, mainstream intelligence bodies like ISO played a critical role in averting security disasters. In the 90s, they nipped in the bud a number of planned attacks including one on the parliament and the American embassy and brought an end to grenade explosions in omnibuses and buses by infiltrating the cells of elements behind these attacks.