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MPs Protest Cabinet Decision To Cut Budget For ‘Already Poorly Funded’ Agriculture Sector

UCDA officials led by Managing Director, Emmanuel Iyamulemye Niyibigira (R) appearing before Agriculture Committee

Members of Parliament sitting on Agriculture Committee protested Cabinet decision to implement last minute budget cuts to a tune of Shs490bn to mainly to  Agriculture agencies.

The MPs are scrutunising ministerial policy statements for 2021/2022 budget.  They argue that Agriculture sector has been poorly funded for a long time.

Appearing before the Committee today,  Emmanuel Iyamulemye Niyibigira, the  Managing Director at Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) told MPs that he had received a letter from the Ministry of Finance asking him to implement the Shs58bn budget cut. The funds were meant to pay nursery operators who supplied coffee seedlings. It was also meant to procure more seedlings for farmers.

 “We have just had a budget cut of Shs58bn. This is on top of the Shs16Bn that had been removed in the first budget call circular. We were trying to show you how we are going to support the coffee sector, but that was based on the MTEF (Medium-Term Expenditure Framework) but now that we have this letter, we are constrained on how we are going to respond,” Iyamulemye said.

In a letter dated 25th March 2021 by Deputy Secretary to Treasury, Patrick Ocailap, Finance Ministry  announced that the Shs490bn budget cuts from agencies and Ministries had been channeled to local governments to implement the agriculture ‘Parish Model’ seeking to reduce dependency on subsistence farming to commercial farming in Uganda.

Ocailap said the Ministry’s move followed a decision by cabinet on 15th March 2021 that authorized budget cuts to National Agricultural and Advisory Services (NAADs) meant for purchase of agriculture Supplies worth Shs56bn and Shs58bn off UCDA’s budget.

Ministry of Gender under the Women Entrepreneurship Program lost Shs32bn, Office of the Prime Minister (PRDP) Shs98bn, Luwero Development Program Shs46bn and Ministry of Local Government Shs200bn.

Instead, Ministry of Finance has redirected these funds to Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) to a tune of Shs19.64bn for updating and rolling out community information systems, Shs6.85bn to Ministry of ICT for operationalization of parish dashboard, Shs8.21bn to the Ministry of Local Government for data collection, while the rest of funds -Shs454Bn were allocated to local governments to the revolving fund.

Iyamulemye said that Uganda is world’s 8th largest coffee producer and plans are already in place to push the nation to the 3rd position, but budget cuts will affect the Authority’s operations.

He wondered what informed cabinet decision noting at Coffee supports 12 million Ugandans without considering exports and the cash crop is now produced in 126 districts out of 146.

Grace Okori-Moe, the Chairperson of Agriculture Committee  described the budget cuts as disappointing, adding that when Ministry of Local Government was asked by Parliament to explain funds Local Governments have been receiving for agriculture implementation, there was no tangible explanation given to warrant further payments.

 “There is someone who doesn’t mean good  for the sector. You slash from number one cash crop and take it elsewhere?,”  Okori-Moe said.

Vincent Wabwoya (Budadiri East) warned that the budget cuts would leave UCDA grappling with arrears to suppliers of coffee seedlings and many farmers would drag Government to court. 

The Coffee Authority team was sent back and ordered to return back in the afternoon with the harmonized budget, that is commensurate with the budget cuts directive. 

One thought on “MPs Protest Cabinet Decision To Cut Budget For ‘Already Poorly Funded’ Agriculture Sector

  1. Robert Baluku

    Keep updating me on UCDA information!

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