Army seeks shs16b to safeguard President during Elections

updf spokes person
Uganda's army spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire.

The defence ministry is seeking sh16.2b to facilitate the security activities of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) during the 2021 general elections.

The sh16.2b, which is among the ministry’s unfunded priorities for the financial year 2020/2021, has been classified as election security.

“We need to raise the ceiling of the budget so that we can include this money. Whether you are NRM (National Resistance Movement) or FDC (Forum for Democratic Change), we need to provide you with security,” Charles Okello, the state minister for defence, said.

However speaking to our correspondent inside the walls of the statehouse, confirmed to our website that the needed funds are for protecting President Museveni and other Top NRM officials during elections.

Okello made the remarks while appearing before the Parliament’s committee on defence and internal affairs yesterday. Parliament is currently scrutinising the national budget framework paper for the financial year 2020/2021.

Okello, who was in the company of Christopher Kibanzanga, the state minister of defence and veteran affairs and Edith Buturo, the permanent secretary in the defence ministry and other senior army officials including Gen. Wilson Mbadi, the Deputy Chief of Defence Forces, had appeared before the committee, to defend the ministry’s budget.

Total Budget

The ministry, whose budget has been reduced from sh3.6 trillion in the financial year 2019/2020, to sh2.7 trillion in the financial year 2020/2021, has had most of its critical areas unfunded or underfunded for the next financial year (2020/21).

Presenting the ministry’s budget estimates for the next financial year, Buturo said the ministry was lacking sh61.5b to cater for salaries of new soldiers and Local Defence Units.

She said the ministry is also in dire need of sh188.4b to clear pensions, gratuity and survivors benefit backlog of 25,033 verified files.

Other areas in critical need which have not been provided funding for the next financial year include reserve force mobilisation and training, which requires sh12b; court arrears amounting to sh52b, troop carriers (sh272.9b) and command vehicles (sh20b).

Buturo said the ministry had a shortfall of sh1.9 trillion minus the sh2.209 trillion needed to cater for the critical underfunded priorities by the ministry.

Describing the elections and security as key components of the budget, MPs advised the ministry to realign the budget priorities so as to find the money for the elections.

Kibanzanga said it was hard for the ministry to readjustment the budget, saying all items were important.

The MPs asked the ministry to justify the money needed, yet the Police, which legally is responsible for policing elections will also be funded.

Gilbert Olanya (KilakSouthMP) said: “What is the breakdown for this money? What are you going to use it for? The election period lasts only four days”