Parliament Urges Swift Release of Funds for Ongoing Donor Projects

Members of Parliament are seen during plenary on March 21, 2023 as the House debated the controversial anti-gay bill. PHOTO/HANDOUT

Summary:

  • Parliament has urged the swift release of funds for ongoing donor-supported projects, following a report revealing the Finance Ministry’s failure to disburse over Shs385 billion for projects like USMID and UgIFT. MPs expressed concern over the potential withdrawal of World Bank funding and called for prioritizing unpaid warrants in supplementary budgets.

Parliament has called on the government to promptly release funds for ongoing projects supported by donors. This directive comes in response to the Committee on Finance, Planning, and Economic Development’s presentation of a report on unspent balances and the status of the Consolidated Fund as of June 30, 2023.

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During the plenary session on January 31, 2024, Committee Chairperson Hon. Amos Kankunda presented the report, revealing that the Finance Ministry has not disbursed over Shs385 billion in unspent warrants for active projects under the World Bank-funded Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) and The Uganda Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers (UgIFT), despite the availability of funds.

The report disclosed that as of July 1, 2022, warrants equivalent to Shs734.8 billion for various local government votes had not been utilized, with 37 percent allocated to UgIFT and 20 percent to USMID. A warrant serves as the Treasury’s authorization for an accounting officer to commit and spend up to a specified amount in a fiscal year.

By the end of the financial year, Hon. Kankunda noted that Shs3.77 trillion remained as unspent warrants, contributing to the growth of domestic arrears. Members of Parliament expressed dissatisfaction, attributing it to negligence within the Finance Ministry and technical officers in ministries and local governments.

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State Minister for Housing Hon. Persis Namuganza raised concerns about the potential withdrawal of funding by the World Bank, emphasizing the frustration faced by municipalities and suppliers despite available funds.

In response, MPs called for the prioritization of unpaid warrants in supplementary budgets, emphasizing the need to address the issue promptly. The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, urged the Finance Ministry to prioritize donor-funded projects in supplementary schedules.

MPs also highlighted irregularities in the implementation of donor-funded projects, with Tororo District Woman MP Hon. Sarah Opendi proposing restrictions on contractors receiving multiple contracts without adequate financial capacity.

Furthermore, MPs called for an audit of unspent balances worth Shs58.9 billion designated for staff recruitment wages. Minister of State for Finance (General Duties) Hon. Henry Musasizi pledged to review the recommendations and release funds for donor-funded projects while emphasizing the need for improved planning and commitment control systems. As a result, Parliament passed an amendment to the report, urging the government to take responsibility for its warrants.

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