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Tough times ahead, Gen. Tumukunde warns Ugandans

Minister for the Presidency Esther Mbayo (left) and Security minister Gen Tumukunde appear before MPs on Thursday morning. Photo by Vincent Kasozi.

KAMPALA–The Minister for Security, Henry Tumukunde, has delivered a tough statement to MPs advising them against the dangers of neglecting intelligence funding.

Tumukunde made an appearance before the committee on presidential affairs that is currently scrutinizing the budget framework paper for the President’s office under which the Internal Security Organization is housed.

In a solemn appeal to MPs, Tumukunde stated that with tourism being Uganda’s largest forex earner, security and stability is a priority that must not be overlooked. He argued that the baseline for security is intelligence.

“Because the baseline for security is intelligence, if you murder the baseline then you are actually doing postmortem,” he stated.

He cited the example of Mombasa in neighbouring Kenya that has lost tourism revenue with investors making massive losses as a result of instability wrought by violent extremists. He also warned against allowing Kampala to turn into a crime infested city like Johannesburg and Nairobi.

“Do you want first to become a Johannesburg or a Nairobi? If that is what you want to have the pleasure is yours,” he warned.

He wondered why MPs allocate resources to what he termed as less deserving activities but neglect security.

“And you happen to provide resources for areas I think could have lesser resources or could even wait, why you find it easier to facilitate an economic monitoring unit and you are not concerned about what destroys the economy that is insecurity,” he argued.

The security minister also notified the MPs that he will be making a request for Shs10b to hire specialists who will save the government money in areas to do with supervision of government projects in order to maintain quality standards.

He referred to the case of shoddy works that were reported on the Karuma and Isimba dams that developed cracks, a situation the cost government a lot of money to investigate and rectify.

The specialists under the Ministry of Security would also be mandated to determine and examine standards specifications on procurements by government.

“I have the honor and pleasure to give you a humble request of about Shs10b for financing specialists and I will ask that if you can give us time I can then present all this,” he implored.

Tumukunde has requested for a special session with the MPs closed to the media in order to breakdown his arguments with facts and figures.

The Minister for the Presidency, Esther Mbayo, informed MPs that ISO requires funds totaling to Shs283.1b for programmes and activities planned for FY 2018/2019 but only Shs19.8b has been allocated for these activities in the medium term expenditure framework.

She stated that efforts and consultations were made with the Ministry of Finance on the matter without success.

Among the activities planned for next financial year is the procurement of a reliable fast and secure communication equipment budgeted at Shs73b, enhancement of technical intelligence collection and analysis to cost Shs17.2b and procurement of 134 motor vehicles and 1578 motorcycles valued at Shs28.8b and Shs25.9b respectively.

None of these items have received even 90% of the desired funding.

MPs across the political divide were sympathetic with the government’s position and voiced opinions highlighting the importance of adequate funding to ISO.

They vowed not to approve the Office of the president’s budget unless the finance ministry allocate the desired funds towards intelligence operations.

The Makindye East MP Ibrahim Kasozi admonished Mbayo for not providing evidence of efforts to appeal to the ministry of finance for the required funding.

He wondered why the police that is supposed to act on the intelligence gathered receives more than Shs500bn and yet the intelligence agency has only been allocated a paltry Shs19b.

The Kassanda South MP Simeo Nsubuga decried the lack of vehicles for security officers situated in the various local governments.

“The GISO in Kassanda South they are walking on foot to do security work, so honorable chair this is unacceptable and for me to add onto what my colleague has just stated unless these funds are allocated I will not append my signature here,” he announced.

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