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MPs Protest Shs6bn Funding To Religious Institutions

State for Finance (General Duties), Henry Musasizi

MPs have protested the proposal by both the Ministry of Works and Ministry of Gender to inject over Shs6bn in the construction works and repairs at two religious facilities, saying the expenditure is outside the priorities of Uganda at the moment.

In the documents tabled before the Budget Committee, Minister of State for Finance (General Duties), Henry Musasizi revealed a request under the Ministry of Works and Transport for Shs3.488Bn, be provided for the completion of critical works at Uganda Martyrs Catholic Shrine Namugongo.

“This was provided to facilitate the completion of presbytery that was at risk of collapse because of rain water that has continued to penetrate it since 2015 as well as complete the building to accommodate the Shrine’s offices and priests residence given that the priests currently reside in a rented house a kilometer away from the shrine,” said Musasizi.

He also announced another request from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to a tune of Sgs2.590Bn for the rehabilitation of Gadafi Mosque in Old Kampala.

Maxwell Akora (Maruzi County) said the provision in the Public Finance Management Act 2015 that allows Government to spend 3% of the budget prior to parliament approval has offered a window for the Ministry to play patronage with public funds, dish out money to undermine the authority as regards issues that have been discussed and rejected.

“I don’t know whether Government should be supporting religious institutions whether it is Islam, Christianity, Pentecostals, when we have gaps in our service delivery, our schools are rotting, our health centres are rotting, and we are dishing out money as if we are a rich country, surely this doesn’t make sense,” said Akora.

Similar sentiments were shared by James Kaberuka (Kinkizi East) who remarked, “Was this one also an emergency that required to spend money to suffocate social services and you fix in this?”

Some lawmakers also raised concern on the Shs1.653Bn required by Judiciary for handling security threats against judges and other public officers and another Shs3.5Bn for the purchase of security vehicles for judges, with MPs questioning where the craze for escort cars started in Uganda.

“Where is this craze coming from? In the past, the judge would sit with the Police in their car, now everybody wants an escort car and they push you off the road to show that they have authority. Uganda is the most militarized car in east and Central Africa,” he said.

Kaberuka weighed into the matter noting, “The Inspector General of Police is now stuck, when an appointment is made, they go and get soldiers, they want to even grab the vehicle that is available for patrolling, that is why police posts have been attacked and they are taking guns because all the police officers have been taken away from the police posts to escort people, this is a fashion.”

Donald Katalihwa (Mwenge South) wondered why the same item for the security of judges is appearing twice in the Shs2.386Trn supplementary Budget, asking which of the two agencies Judiciary and Police would purchase the lead cars for the judges.

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