Parliament defers approval of loan requests

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Parliament has deferred the passing of two loan requests by government citing inadequacies in supporting information and absence of sector ministers.

The legislators deferred the passing of a request by government to borrow US$169.2 million from the International Development Association of World Bank Group for financing of the Irrigation for the Climate Resilience Project.

The specific object of the loan is to develop project areas with access to irrigation and other agricultural services and to establish management arrangements for irrigation service delivery.

While presenting the report on behalf of the Committee of National Economy, Elgon County MP, Hon Wamakuyu Mudimi  said that the loans specifically under the Ministry of Water have a low absorption rate which has been outstanding and needed to be rectified.

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Ndorwa East MP, Hon. Wilfred Niwagaba said that the report raised a lot of questions that had to be answered by the Ministry of Water whose representatives were absent.

“There are issues that need to be addressed like the lack of a master plan for implementation of the irrigation project and inadequate project preparedness among others,” he added.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said that there were questions on farmers having to pay volumetric and water connection fees to access the irrigation project and that, ‘farmers will need to make a certain financial input. The question is, are they aware?’.

“The Committee did not meet with the farmers who are to benefit from this project to see if they are in agreement with some the proposals of these loans;we too need clarity from the government to make a sober decision,” she said.

The legislators also rejected the request to borrow US$99.8 million to finance the Competitiveness and Enterprise Development Project.

MPs said that the government had previously acquired loans to support enterprise development projects but with no marked progress.

Dokolo County, Hon. Felix Okot Ogong said there is need to borrow to empower enterprise and private sector development and boost competitiveness.

“Parliament however, needs information on how money previously borrowed to support enterprises was utilised,” he said adding that, ‘we owe it to the country to make informed decisions’.
First Deputy Prime Minister, Gen Moses Ali said that Parliament should not reject the requests on the premise of non-utilisation of past loans.  He added that the loans are competitively sought for by other players on the global scale who may take it if Uganda does not.

Kadaga directed that more information on the absorption of loans should be table in Parliament before approval of the new requests.

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