MPs sitting on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Officials Tuesday grilled officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries over Shs25.5bn debt in outstanding subscription fees to international organisations.
This follows queries raised in June 2017 audit report by the Auditor General, John Muwanga.
According to the 2016/2017 AG report, Uganda is a member of the Dessert Locust Control Organistion for East Africa, an organization of countries in East Africa and the Horn of Africa which helps with pest and disease control.
And for a nation to be a member, it requires annual contribution from the member states.
However, Uganda’s cumulative balance payable to Dessert Locust Control Organisation for East Africa totaled to USD4, 955,770 by the time of audit.
Additionally, Uganda withdrew from the International Red Locust Control Organisation for the Central and Southern Africa in 2000, but at the time of withdrawal, the East African country had an outstanding amount of USD1,838,017.
This makes an outstanding of USD6,793,787 equivalent to Shs25.5bn at current exchange.
Pius Wakabi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture blamed the accumulated subscription on meager funds from the limited funds from the Treasury.
However, the same matter was raised by auditors when they pointed out that the Ministry had irregularly incurred arrears outside the approved estimates to a tune of Shs27.32bn and these lacked documentation to back them up.
Wakabi still blamed the bulk of the arrears on Government’s failure to allocate funds for international organizations.
He said Uganda is also a signatory to other global bodies like Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health and subscription has remained a big issue.
Wakabi revealed that most of the fees required by FAO have been paid up leaving a debt of Shs64M.
He noted that FAO has been instrumental in helping to combat the fall army worm.
However, MPs led by PAC Chairperson Angelline Osegge tasked the Ministry to bring documentation of the breakdown of arrears.
“It is interesting how international organizations are still interested in supporting us and you don’t seem interested in paying subscription fees,” Osegge said.