Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The management of Uganda Broadcasting Corporation has told Parliament that it will need supplementary funding of 1.2 billion Shillings to expand its radio transmission network to underserved regions.
According to a statement by the Minister of ICT and National Guidance Judith Nabakooba, the money will cover the cost of 20 units of 1.2 KW Radio Transmitters, 15 digitak audio processors, 20 bass pass filters, 10 dummy loads, 20 15KVA Automatic voltage regulators, 15 new sets of 4 dipole antennas among others, to facilitate new transmission sites in the districts of Bukwo, Kapchorwa, Kotido, Packwach, Kitgum and Moyo.
The matter came up as the UBC Managing Director Winston Agaba faced criticism from MPs for failure to serve several districts that have no radio coverage. Agaba told the MPs that the broadcaster had experienced a budget shortfall of 3 million Shillings in the 2019/2020 financial year which had affected their work plan. He however noted that the transmitters for the expansion had been ordered from a manufacturer in Italy but UBC had a shortfall of 1.2 billion Shilling to clear the cost of the procurement
He said he was hoping the finance ministry would clear the cost in a supplementary budget but noted that should this fail, UBC was looking at internal mechanisms to earmark certain funds to pay the manufacturer. The UBC management was appearing before the ICT committee of Parliament today.
The committee was directed to take action on the matter by the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga on the basis that for several years, she has briefed Parliament about the need to upgrade the transmission network in the areas of Sebei and Karamoja.
However a letter produced by the Permanent Secretary indicates that he had directed UBC to use its quarter-four subvention in the 2019/2020 financial year to acquire transmitters for the areas that are underserved on the understanding that the 2 billion Shillings COVID-19 relief funds would cater for operational expenses.
Bagiire, in the letter also discloses that he had asked UBC to share its plans for the underserved areas but this was never done. When quizzed as to what had happened to a 2 billion Shillings supplementary during the COVID-19 lockdown, Agaba stated that it had catered for the costs involving long distance learning programmes and other operations.
MPs reprimanded Agaba for not heeding to directives of Parliament and the line minister.
Ayivu County MP Bernard Atiku noted that he was very disappointed with the UBC management since he had been one of those most empathic that UBC gets a COVID-19 relief but the broadcaster has remained complacent.
Bagiire appeared noted that he hoped the UBC board will now take the matter seriously and address the issues as fast as possible.