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Parliament blocks financing UPDF operations in Congo

Parliament’s Committee on Budget has decided to stay allocations to ‘Operation Shujaa’, a code name for the Uganda People’s Defense Forces campaign against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in Congo, until the legislature is apprised of the operation.

The Ministry of Defense had asked for Shs89.7 billion to finance the operations but MPs said briefing of Parliament should precede committing public funds to the operation.

“During the deployment of the army, Parliament was by-passed. We don’t know how many battalions are in Congo. We are entitled to know the exit strategy and reports on casualties on our side,” said Chief Opposition Whip John Baptist Nambeshe (NUP, Manjiya).

MP Ibrahim Ssemujju followed suit.

“When we asked for a briefing, they said we have nothing to do with Parliament; now why would they come to the same Parliament for money? For me my proposal is that this should wait until we are briefed,” he said.

The Committee on Defense and Internal Affairs was appearing before their budget counterparts to present the budgets of the sectors under their watch.

These are the Ministries of Defense and Veteran Affairs, Internal Affairs, Government Analytical Laboratory, Uganda Prisons Service, Uganda Police Force, National Citizenship and Immigration Control and National Identification and Registration Authority.

Budget Committee Chairperson Patrick Isiagi Opolot (NRM, Bukedea County) agreed with his Members.

“Before you come up with proposal for funding, we must have been briefed [and you report] on what challenges have been encountered,” he said.

In the National Budget Framework Paper, the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocated to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is less by Shs406 billion, while classified expenditure suffered a slash of Shs86.7 billion.

The Committee on Defense and Internal Affairs made a case for the reinstatement of the AMISOM budget.

“The Committee [on Defense and Internal Affairs] recommends the reinstatement of AMISOM budget of Shs404 billion as the peace mission is still on for the pacification of Somalia and the Great Lakes region,” said MP Rosemary Nyakikongoro (NRM, Sheema).

The MPs also made a case for the army’s salary enhancement, which they said could come in handy given the rising cost of living.

“The Committee established that salaries for the soldiers were last enhanced eight years ago; the current monthly pay of a soldier at the rank of private is Shs485,000 amidst the increased cost of living,” said Hon Nyakikongoro.

She supported UPDF’s request for an additional Shs493.2 billion so that the lowest paid soldier can earn Shs600,000.

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