MPs Advocate for Realistic Budget Projections and Penalties for Diversion

MPs Advocate for Realistic Budget Projections and Penalties for Diversion
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In a report presented by Hon. Gerald Nangoli (NRM, Elgon North County) on behalf of the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities & State Enterprises (COSASE), accounting officers have been directed to thoroughly analyze their entity’s revenue sources and projections during budgeting. This directive aims to create more realistic non-tax revenue (NTR) estimates.

The report, delivered on Wednesday, October 18, 2023, focused on the Auditor General’s findings regarding the financial statements of the National Animal Genetic Resourced Center and Data Bank (NAGRCDB) for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2022.

One of the key observations highlighted in the report was the impact of unrealistic NTR estimates at the vote level, which subsequently influenced NTR estimates at the treasury level. These inaccuracies in projections had a detrimental effect on the credibility of the budget.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development’s failure to allocate the resources allocated by Parliament to NAGRCDB resulted in the inability to execute planned activities. This misallocation led to the diversion of public funds, a violation of Section 22 of the Public Finance Management Act, thereby undermining the purpose of budgeting and public service delivery.

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To address these issues, COSASE has instructed accounting officers to collaborate with the Finance Ministry during the work-plan implementation to ensure that funds are disbursed as planned and are allocated to unfinished tasks.

The report received widespread support from legislators, with many criticizing the Finance Ministry’s unrealistic NTR estimates, which they believed contributed to the underreporting of non-tax revenue.

During the session, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa, chairing the meeting, appealed to the Finance Ministry to reconsider its NTR projections for Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs). He emphasized that low NTRs were a consequence of underestimation and urged a thorough examination during the budgeting process.

Hon. David Karubanga (Kigorobya County) expressed concerns that the Finance Ministry had previously shifted the responsibility of setting NTR estimates for local governments to the local governments themselves, blaming them for underreporting their targets.

Several members of parliament called for stricter penalties for accounting officers involved in fund diversions. Agago North Member of Parliament, Hon. Okot John Amos, criticized COSASE for what he considered leniency toward these officers, suggesting that a more stringent approach was necessary to deter such behavior. He recommended that the misappropriated funds should be returned to their original allocation.

Hon. Xavier Kyooma from Ibanda North County criticized accounting officers for failing to incorporate generational cycle results into procurement plans, highlighting another area that needs improvement within the system.

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