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Gov’t Defends Shs417bn State House Budget

The Minister of Information, Communication, Technology and National Guidance, Chris Baryomunsi (pictured) has defended Shs417.976Bn budget allocated to State House in the 2023/2024 national budget, stating that although President Museveni is the smartest President to ever grace Uganda, the Shs350m allocated for purchase of clothes and bedding isn’t only used by the President and his family alone, but also his support staff.

Minister Baryomunsi made the remarks when he took to the floor of Parliament warning media against misinforming the public after they reported about the minority report on the 2023/2024 that raised concern on the exorbitant State House Budget, saying some information was left out thus misleading the public.

Baryomunsi argued that in addition to Entebbe State House, Nakasero State Lodge and the Vice President’s residence, there are other 23 upcountry State Lodges distributed in various parts of the country, as well as the other five Administrative office blocks that support State House (Okello House, Parliament block, Lumumba, IDC Plaza and Okello annex).

“The item covers protective gear for support staff, beddings for State Lodges, curtains, various linens for furniture and State House functions as well as uniforms for staff as need arises,” he said.

He added that the clothing budget caters numerous categories of staff including; drivers, housekeepers,caterers, kitchen staff, cleaners and regular office staff.

“In the media, there has also been a discussion as to whether the President spends Shs350m per year to buy clothing. Our President is one of the smartest Presidents, but to clarify, according to those of us who see him regularly, the item that appears is meant to cover the protective gears for support staff,” explained Baryomunsi.

However, Ibrahim Ssemujju (Kira Municipality) called Minister Baryomunsi for dragging Parliament back by igniting a debate that had already been disposed of by Parliament.

Ssemujju asked, “Is the Minister in order to reopen a matter that we finished? Because we dealt with the budget and we finished it, there were Ministers here. I am asking whether this Minister of National Guidance, who is now misleading Government should abuse rules because State House wants to deny parts of what we passed here? ”

Government also defended the Shs7. 8Bn and Shs184m for veterinary services, noting that State House Budget for Agricultural supplies, saying that the money is used by State House to support model villages under the Presidential initiative on poverty alleviation.

The Minister said there are currently 32 model villages that are supported with agricultural inputs and training and the cost drivers for this initiative include regular training of farmers, organizing exposure trips for farmers, establishing demonstrations farms, provision of improved planting materials, provision of seed capital funding for farmer producer groups and SACCOs.

The Minister said, “I hope this information clarifies the issues and sets a proper record of this House. t appeal to all of us to always desist from raising sensational and unsubstantiated information which misleads the public. ”

Government’s statement comes amidst public outrage following a report by some opposition MPs led by Ibrahim Ssemujju (Kira Municipality), who read this section of the report on behalf of Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala County), Anna Adeke (Soroti DWR), Gorrethe Namugga (Mawogola South) and Lulume Bayiga (Buikwe South), who called on Parliament to scrutunise the budget for State House in order to promote welfare of the citizens in Uganda, rather than the welfare of his family.

Ssemujju’s first point of contention was the Shs43.7Bn earmarked for presiding over of ceremonies and functions, saying that out of the Shs250Bn allocated for Office of Presidency, only Shs82Bn is relevant.

He said, “How on earth can we provide Shs43Bn for ceremonies when the road network in Kampala City are broken down? The money for ceremonies should be spent on repairing roads in Kampala and Wakiso.”

The Opposition also queried the Shs417.976Bn budget to State House, saying that the budget if computed means  that State House spends Shs1.1Bn per day, Shs47.7Bn per hour, and Shs797.236M per minute. To put it more clearly Shs1.5Bn every two minutes.

Ssemujju wondered why Parliament has continued to allocate funds two residents in Entebbe and Nakasero for the Presidency, yet the law only provides for one residency, saying this could explain why the water and electricity bills at state house are higher than that of Roofings Factory.

But Minister clarified saying the Shs1Bn utility bills don’t only cover the Entebbe and Nakasero state houses, but other state lodges located across the country.

The Opposition also queried the Shs7.8Bn for agriculture supplies and another Shs184M for veterinary services wondering if the President turned State House into a farm without the knowledge of Uganda and tasked Parliament to ensure that taxpayers’ money isn’t being used to manage affairs at the President’s private farm in Kisozi.

But the Minister said the funds are used to support model farmers.

Minister Baryomunsi said that State House is a full Government Entity with a structure fully approved by the Ministry of Public Service and these staff provides the necessary logistical and technical support for the efficient and effective operations of the Presidency. State House in turn provides the necessary facilitation for the staff to carry out their responsibilities effectively.

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