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Kasaija: EC Must Cut Its Budget Because Gov’t is Struggling Financially

The Electoral Commission has to revise their budget ahead of 2021 General Elections  because Government is facing financial constraints after failing to meet  the projected revenue target in 2019/2020, Matia Kasaija (pictured), the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, has said.

 Minister Kasaija made the revelation today while appearing alongside officials from Electoral Commission before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.

Kasaija admitted that Finance has failed to raise funds required by EC but assured Ugandans that elections will be held absolutely and there is no debate on that matter.

 “I met this morning members of EC and other stakeholders; Police, Prisons, NIRA those directly connected to elections and we agreed this morning because of financial constraints within the treasury that they would go back look through with technical officers where we can reduce if possible. I want to know the final figure before Friday,” Kasaija said.

“There are going to be elections… Government is committed to holding elections. Yes there are financial constraints in treasury, but this is one of the top priority,” he added.

EC Chief, Justice Byabakama confirmed the development, saying that Ministry of Finance pointed out financial constraints the country is faced and it pointed out the need for EC to review the budget.

“We expressed difficulty we are encountering for not having adequate funds for entire electoral activities. Because of severe financial constraints, EC will go back and identify areas where cuts would be made. It is a difficult task, we are going to say what can be done and get back to the Ministry of Finance,” said Justice Byabakama.

The Legal Committee last week directed officials from both Ministry of Finance and Electoral Commission to hold a meeting and harmonise on how the 2021 general elections’ will be financed after the Commission revealed that they are running short of funds to conduct elections.

Justice Simon Byabakama, Chairperson Electoral Commission told Parliament that the Commission had projected the cost of the 2021 general elections at Shs868.4bn but to date, electoral activities to a tune of Shs518.94bn remain unfunded.

In the 2019/2020 budget, Ministry of Finance provided the Commission with Shs140.98bn out of the required Shs439.46bn to fund the second phase, leaving a shortfall of Shs298.48bn.

The Ministry of Finance set EC’s The Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) ceiling for 2020/2021 at Shs222.8bn out of the required Shs357bn, a move that will leave the Commission grappling with a shortfall of Shs134.3bn.

Reactions

However, Government’s directive to EC was met with protests from MPs.

Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda (Kira Municipality) warned that asking the EC to reduce on their budget would expose the coming elections.

 “We are almost in final phases of budget consideration, today you come nearly to final stage you are still cutting. Doesn’t he (Minister Kasaija) expose the EC and country that they can simply organize elections that fits within their budget. We are interested in credible elections which are time bound,” he said.

Jovah Kamateeka (Mitooma Woman) argued that Parliament is in the process of crafting the budget and wondered why the Ministry of Finance is talking about budget cuts.

“I think the Minister is trying to intimidate us knowing it is parliament that allocates funds,” she said.

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