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Inside State House’s Shs22bn for new presidential cars

According to Security Minister Jim Muhwezi Katugugu, the new vehicles are necessary to ease road movement for the President and Vice President.

President Museveni in one of his new Benzes at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds during the Golden Jubilee celebrations October 9, 2012. PHOTO BY STEPHEN WANDERA.

KAMPALA, UGANDA: The State House of Uganda has allocated Sh21.950 billion to purchase new vehicles for President Museveni and Vice President Jessica Alupo in the 2023/24 financial year (FY) to ease road movement for the President and Vice President.

The allocation which includes other State House luxury expenditures was Thursday revealed by Security Minister Jim Muhwezi Katugugu in the budget framework paper currently under review by a parliamentary committee on presidential affairs.

The minister told the committee that the item in question is a victim of a 40 per cent budgetary cut effected by the Finance ministry, and therefore needs to be shoehorned into State House’s Shs419.9b proposed budget for FY2023/2024.

“There is need to reconsider that reduction and also consider the fact that the item is grossly underfunded given the ageing fleet of the vehicles for the principals; “His Excellency the President and Vice President,” Mr Muhwezi said.

In addition to the vehicle upgrades, the State House has also allocated Sh21.722 billion for the refurbishment of Entebbe State House, repairs and maintenance of Nakasero State Lodge, and 23 other upcountry state lodges.

The allocation also covers the procurement of five support vehicles, annual maintenance of the presidential jet and helicopter, specialized and security equipment, ICT equipment, and official and residential furniture.

When questioned on how the failure to purchase new vehicles for the President and Vice President would be a danger to the country, Muhwezi stated that whereas the President and Vice President can move on foot, it is important to have the vehicles for their timely arrival to necessary locations and efficient collection of information.

However, lawmakers on the Presidential Affairs Committee insisted that frugality and simplicity have to hold sway as the country grapples with a cost of living crisis.

“There is a lot of money being invested in these presidential advisors, I would like to get clarification on these increasing numbers and some of the things they work on because, for the case of Kampala, I have never seen any presidential advisor working,” Mr Abubaker Kawalya (Rubaga North), said.

“There is a need to reconsider the deduction and also consider the fact that the item is grossly underfunded given the ageing fleet of vehicles for the principals,” said Muhwezi while presenting the budget to the committee chaired by Adjumani Woman MP Jesca Ababiku.

Despite the allocation, the State House’s desired budget for the next financial year 2023/2024 is Sh419.938 billion, leaving a funding gap of Sh35.418 billion. A significant portion of the desired budget, Sh13.468 billion, is allocated for the procurement of security equipment.

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