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Office Of President Wants Shs3.7bn For Seminars In 2021/22

A section of MPs on Parliament’s Budget Committee have rejected the Shs3.7bn to the Office of the President on seminars and travel abroad and in land, saying the cost is redundant because of Government’s efforts to cut administrative costs by limiting large meetings and travels.

The plea was made by Jessica Ababiku, Chairperson Parliament’s Committee of Presidential Affairs while presenting the 2021/22 national budget framework paper for the presidency, where she revealed that if the budget cuts are approved by Parliament, they would affect the implementation of the Office’s mandate.

Ababiku explained that the Office of the President had requested for a budget of Shs230.6bn, but the Ministry of Finance only approved Shs105.9bn, leaving a shortfall of Shs124.7bn, warning that the huge funding gap is likely to constrain the office of President’s efforts to effectively deliver on its mandate.

“There has been a budget cut on non-wage expenditure to a tune of Shs3.79bn on grounds that travels abroad and in land, workshops and seminars are consumptive in nature. The Committee is of the view that though travels and workshops are consumptive in nature, it is a real cost driver on delivering its mandate,” she explained.  

However, the proposal received rejection from MPs on Budget Committee led by Patrick Isiagi, Chairperson Budget Committee who tasked Ababiku to highlight the exact activities that will be affected by the budget cuts, since there are other Government agencies receiving funding to monitor Government projects.

Isiagi said, “This story of saying monitoring anybody can see how lack of this money affects this office. What are the critical activities that got affected diue to lack of this money? What is that which we can’t postpone, we want to see the critical activities affected.”

 The MPs were backed by Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija who deemed the budget request as wastage expenditure and urged Office of Presidency to adopt new ways of fulfilling their mandate given the changing times of the pandemic that have forced Governments to rethink seminars.

Minister Kasaija said, “That is why we want to go E-Government. Is it absolutely necessary to hold a delegation of 100 people in one meeting. It is no longer necessary, even Coronavirus has helped in this regard. Information can be shared electronically with minimal costs. Seminars are going to become history internationally. If we have to provide money is to facilitate them to have those facilities so they don’t have to be in one place.”

Ababiku however asked the Budget Committee not to ban the seminars and workshops totally but rather minimize them at a minimal level, saying these workshops can be totally put off but rather work at reducing their expenditure.

Jacquiline Amongin (Ngora Woman MP) BACKED Ababiku calling on the Budget Committee to reconsider total budget cuts to seimnars and workshops and have these eliminated gradually, warning that total abrupt ban will affect operationalization of these offices.

However, Kenneth Lubogo fired back saying, the Presidency must live by example and must be at forefront of administrative costs, “We can’t talk of cutting things elsewhere, we can’t proceed as normal, so there is no point saying that as things will run normal. Let the Presidency lead by example.”

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