Defence asks for Shs16b to manage 2021 elections - National | NTV

Defence asks for Shs16b to manage 2021 elections

Sunday January 19, 2020

 

By Faith Amongin

The Ministry of Defence is seeking Shs16.2 biIlion to manage the 2021 General Election.
The money is part of the Shs1.9 trillion of the unfunded priorities presented before
Parliament that the ministry needs for the 2020/2021 Financial Year.

Appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs on Thursday, the State Miniter for Defence, Col (Rtd) Charles Okello Engola, who led the delegation, said they need the money to facilitate the operations of the Uganda

People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) during the elections.


However, when MPs pressed him to further breakdown the ministry’s needs, Mr Engola failed to explain arguing that it was not yet funded and there is no way he could break it down.

“Hon Olanya, what you are talking about is money that is unfunded, and you are telling me to breakdown when it is not yet funded. The best we can do is to uplift the ceiling, which we have so that we may have it in our budget,” Mr Engola said in response to Kilak South County MP Gilbert Olanya, who had insisted that the minister, justifies the need for the money.


“You need security during elections, whether you belong to the [ruling] National Resistance Movement (NRM) or any other party, which we have to provide you with. All we need is to convince Parliament so that we can get the funds,” he added.


Col Engola together with other senior officials from the ministry were presenting their budget framework paper for the Financial Year 2020/2021 to the committee.


Also among the unfunded priorities that the ministry needs is salary for new recruits in the army and the Local Defence Unit (LDU) personnel, which stands at Shs61.5b.


Earlier this month, the UPDF set out to recruit a total of 4,000 people from all regions into the army.


The minister told MPs that they do not have money for the salaries of the new recruits.
The ministry also needs Shs12b for the reserve force mobilisation and training.

This follows a directive by President Museveni to redeploy 2,752 soldiers in the reserve forces as revealed by Maj Gen Charles Otema, the Commander of Reserve Forces, at a press conference this week.

Irked by the submissions from the officials, Memebers of Parliament wondered why the ministry keeps calling out for more recruitments in the army yet they are unable to sustain the current numbers.

“Recently, I was driving home, I met some LDU personnel who had put a roadblock and were asking whoever passed for money that they needed to have supper, I gave them Shs50,000 after engaging them briefly,” Butambala County MP Muwanga Kivumbi said.

The legislators also expressed concern over the poor and discriminatory payment in the force, where the foot soldiers earn very little, accusing government of only focusing on UPDF scientists.

They said the ministry needs to enhance the salaries of all soldiers.

In response, Col Engola said despite an increment in the wage Budget from Shs519b to Shs533b, the money was still inadequate to cater for all the requirements. He, however, said the process for supplementary funding is ongoing.


Other unfunded priorities that the ministry needs are logistics, which include troop carriers and command vehicles standing at Shs292b, training of soldiers which requires Shs20.6b, and pension and veteran issues at Shs188b, among others.


The ministry’s total Budget proposal for the 2020/2021 Financial Year sums up to Shs2.8 trillion.