KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Office of the President of Uganda has reported a funding gap of sh5.1 billion to enable the purchase of vehicles for the newly recruited presidential advisors.
Another sh4.23 billion is also needed to facilitate investiture ceremonies and procurement of medals, while sh7 billion has been budgeted for construction of office space for Resident District Commissioners (RDCs).
President Yoweri Museveni recently appointed several new advisors among them former Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, former Minister of Security Elly Tumwine, former Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, and former Ministers Amelia Kyambadde, Sarah Kanyike, and Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi. The appointments brought the number of Presidential advisors to 139.
But for them to be able to occupy these offices and execute their mandate, the presidency needed an allocation of up to sh8.3 billion. Of this, only sh3.2 billion was provided to cover the cost of renting their offices and allowances. The money that was not provided was budgeted for the purchase of their motor vehicles, according to State Minister for Economic Monitoring Peter Ogwang.
Ogwang was appearing before Parliament’s Presidential Affairs Committee that is currently considering the Budget Framework Paper for the financial year 2022-2023. He told the committee that it is important to ensure that the presidential advisors perform to the expectations of the public.
Ogwang added that the government also needs sh7 billion to construct office space for Resident District Commissioners (RDCs).
Documents before the committee indicate that the Office of the President has deployed a total of 146 RDCs and 107 of these are renting, 15 are in government-built houses and 24 are in houses owned by districts.
Some of the government-constructed houses are in the districts of Lamwo, Abim, Amuru, Kiryandongo, Kamuli, Buhweju, Bundibugyo, Lwengo, Rubirizi, Butaleja, Adjumani, Butambala, Otuke and Luuka.
“The office of the President constructs one office accommodation each year. This implies that it would take the Office of the President 110 years to construct for all RDCs. However, the rental fees being charged for office accommodation are increasing and had become unsustainable. We appeal to the committee to provide 7 billion to enable the office to construct at least ten houses per year,” Ogwang appealed.
Besides accommodation, Ogwang also told MPs that the Office of the President is in urgent need of additional funding totaling 2.4 billion Shillings to facilitate RDCs monitor implementation of government programs to ensure delivery of services.
Under the 2022/2023 financial year budget framework paper, government has provided 9.7 billion to facilitate RDCs.
In response, MPs led by the committee Chairperson Jesca Ababiku raised query about several RDCs being involved in questionable acts like becoming land dealers, protecting land grabbers, getting involved in local politics and others. Ogwang said that he would present the issue raised by the committee to the President who is the appointing authority.
Meanwhile, MPs learned that also the stock of medals in form of ‘Most Excellent Order of the Pearl of Africa’, ‘Distinguished Order of the Pearl of Africa’ has run out. These are honors bestowed on visiting Heads of States and Government.
Ogwang says that the development poses a risk in failure to decorate an invited Head of State with appropriate honor and puts the President to untold embarrassment. He appealed to the committee to provide sh4.23 billion in the budget to facilitate investiture ceremonies and procurement of these medals for awards.