Post-Summit Initiatives: Ministry Seeks Shs6 Billion for NAM and G77+China Meetings

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs has proposed allocating a budget line of Shs4 billion and Shs2 billion to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, earmarked for post-summit activities of the Non-Aligned Movement and G77+China, respectively, over the next three years. This proposal was presented to the Committee on Budget on Tuesday, January 16, 2024, during the presentation of a report on the 2024/2025 National Budget Framework Paper for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Uganda’s Foreign Missions.

The Deputy Chairperson of the committee, Hon. Fred Opolot, informed MPs on the Budget Committee that no funds were initially allocated for post-summit activities, despite Uganda’s Foreign Policy being implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Opolot highlighted that the secretariats overseeing the Non-Aligned Movement would be responsible for hosting and participating in meetings at diplomatic and technical levels, as well as preparing documents in line with the outcome document, among other tasks.

He further mentioned that post-summit activities involve domestic and international travel to engage in extraordinary sessions of the Council of Foreign Ministers, as well as international conferences on environment, human rights, trade, and disarmament. This is part of Uganda’s role as the Chair of NAM for the next three years.

Opolot emphasized the significance of these functions in enhancing market access for exports, attracting foreign direct investment, and ensuring the success of international engagements and events.

Addressing concerns, Hon. Dicksons Kateshumbwa (NRM, Sheema Municipality) questioned the absence of provisions for these activities in the current budget, considering that NAM and G77+China events are already underway.

Hon. Stephen Kangwagye (Indep., Bukanga County) raised a query about the funding source for ongoing NAM activities within the country, as the January summits were organized by the Office of the President.

The Foreign Affairs Committee also stressed the need to allocate the annual budget requirement of Shs25.054 billion for the payment of subscriptions to international organizations. Opolot recommended transferring the subscription arrears totaling Shs41.86 billion from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ministry of Finance.

Hon. Paul Omara (Indep., Otuke County) supported the call for funding subscriptions, emphasizing its prioritization to avoid embarrassment for Members attending international conferences due to non-payment.

Gomba District Woman Representative, Hon. Sylvia Nayebale, echoed the importance of allocating funds for the ministry’s international obligations, urging the Budget Committee to prioritize and address the pending subscriptions list, especially those involving the President’s participation.

Outstanding subscription arrears include IGAD (Shs17.3 billion), World Food Programme (Shs14.93 billion), African Union (Shs3.15 billion), United Nations (Shs1.7 billion), UN Peace Keeping Operations and Tribunals (Shs882.8 million), and the Commonwealth Secretariat (Shs85.7 million).