Parliament passes Shs29 trillion national budget

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Parliament has passed a Shs29 trillion National budget for the financial year 2017/18 slightly higher by Shs3 trillion, compared to the current national budget 2016/17 which is Shs26.3trilion.

According to the budget report by the house’s committee on budget, adopted on Wednesday by Parliament, out of the Shs29 trillion, Sha7.trillion will go towards recurrent budget, Shs11.4 trillion towards the development budget and Shs9.9 trillion towards statutory expenditure.

The report indicates that the FY2017/18 budget will focus on increasing agriculture production and productivity for food security and strategic exports, enhancing private sector development for promotion and import substitution.

It will also focus on intensifying energy and transport infrastructure development, to lower production costs and completing oil related infrastructure development to enable commercialization and the first oil output in 2020.

In the new financial year, domestic revenues including grants are projected to increase by 18.06%, against the projected revenues of FY 2016/17.

In the budget, sectors like the works and transport sector, ministry of defense, health, and the education, will receive the highest share of the budget.

The House presided over by the deputy speaker Jacob Oulanyah managed to beat the deadline set by the Public Finance Act which requires legislators to have the budget approved by May 31.

The opposition had bitterly opposed the budgetary proposals especially plans to spend money on the oil roads in the absence of feasibility studies.

The opposition with a minority report wanted government to a re-allocate Shs 705 billion budgeted for construction of 15 oil roads.

The opposition said only two out of the planned 15 oil roads earmarked for funding in the next financial year had feasibility studies and have detailed designs.

Government allocated Shs 1.3 trillion to the construction of the 15 oil roads in the coming financial year. The total works and transport budget proposed is Shs 4.6 trillion.

The roads with complete feasibility studies and detailed designs are Hoima-Butiaba-Wanseko road whose construction is budgeted at Shs 444 billion and Lusalira-Nkonge-Ssembabule road budgeted at Shs 190.8 billion.

The roads whose construction the opposition is contesting due to absence of feasibility studies include Masindi-Biiso road budgeted at Shs 108 billion, Masindi-Bugungu via Murchison Falls national park budgeted at Shs 152 billion, Kaseeta-Lwera via Bugoma forest whose budget is Shs 34 billion, and Wanseko-Bugungu road estimated to cost close to Shs 5 billion.

Others are Buhimba-Nalweyo-Kakindu-Kakumiro road estimated to cost over Shs 195 billion, Kyotera-Rakai road at Shs 43 billion, and Kabaale-Kiziranfumbi road budgeted at Shs 56.8 billion. Also on the list are a bridge at Paraa crossing to cost Shs 8.7 billion and Hahwa-Nyairongo-Kyarushesha road estimated to cost Shs 54.3 billion.

Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal presented the minority report on the floor of parliament. She said it was not prudent for parliament to appropriate funds to 13 roads that lack feasibility studies and detailed designs.

“There is no basis to inform the costs and commit public funds,” said Ogwal.

She further demanded that Shs 705 billion be reallocated from oil roads without feasibility studies and detailed designs to fund other priority budget items.

The opposition demands touch one of the 2017/2018 proposed financial year budget focus areas.

The opposition’s demands could however not sail through. They were defeated by the majority ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) legislators who turned up to vote in favour of the budget proposals.

The largest proportion of the resources have been allocated to works and transport sector taking Shs 4.6 trillion followed by education at Shs 2.4 trillion. Energy and mineral development takes Shs 2.3 trillion with health and security taking Shs 1.8 trillion and Shs 1.4 trillion respectively.

Key sectors like agriculture have been allocated Shs 863 billion while water and environment takes Shs 595 billion.

The budget focus according to parliament’s budget committee chairperson, Amos Lugoloobi, is on increasing agricultural production and productivity for food security and strategic exports. It also focuses on enhancing private sector development for export promotion and import substitution.

Source: URN