Members of Parliament Commence Nationwide Evaluation of FY 2022/23 Budget Implementation

Parliamentary sittings have been deferred for two weeks to allow MPs to assess the performance of the 2022/2023 financial year budget through oversight visits across the country.

The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, who chaired the plenary on Tuesday, 31 October 2023, adjourned the House to 15 November 2023. Tayebwa stated that as Parliament starts the new budgeting cycle, there is a need for committees to review how this financial year’s Shs52 trillion budget has performed.

“We have started receiving medium-term expenditure frameworks; that means the budgeting process has begun in Parliament. Money that was appropriated in the last financial year, we see reports on paper, but we need to see it on the ground,” said Tayebwa. He added, “I will be joining you on some of those visits so that we see what is done. Can we go and see these important activities for which we appropriated money? If we do it for some time, we shall be able to help, especially with oversight.”

He said that upon their return, each committee will be required to present findings on the Floor with the aim of improving budget performance.

Relatedly, some lawmakers have urged the government to be realistic while making budgets to avoid cases of shortfalls that subsequently affect service delivery.

Hon. Nathan Byanyima (NRM, Bukanga North County) said that several districts are grappling with poor roads due to the finance ministry’s failure to release funds. “There are no releases; it is air supply. We would rather have a budget that concentrates on one sector and see some progress, rather than every year saying this will be done and we end up not doing anything,” said Byanyima.

Hon. Elijah Mushemeza (Indep. Sheema County South) urged the government to ensure that expenditure tallies with available revenue. “It is high time for MPs to be realistic, coming up with a budget of Shs52 trillion when we know what the Uganda Revenue Authority collects. Given the debt servicing and the hostile global environment in terms of borrowing, is it still realistic to pass a budget of Shs52 trillion?” he said.

The Deputy Speaker called for smart budgeting, emphasizing that it entails considering proposed revenue in tax Bills. “A good example is when the government shows the revenue side and expenditure side and says we want to raise this much from taxes, but when it comes to handling tax Bills, we reject some amendments which could be worth Shs500 billion, and yet we continue to appropriate the actual amount,” he said.

Tayebwa added: “We should now start communicating together. If we reject certain tax proposals, can we have them costed? Then, after they are costed and not adopted, we strike that amount off the budget; otherwise, you are appropriating air, and then when the minister starts surprising, we complain.”

The Minister of State for Finance, Planning, and Economic Development (General Duties), Hon. Henry Musasizi, blamed the challenges in financing the budget on the mismatch between the releases and the actual realization of cash. “It is not our intention, and I want to ask colleagues to understand the circumstances and walk with us because we must speak the same language,” he said.