Drama, chaos over contradicting figures as Mbarara councilors finally approve budget

Mbarara councilors during the council meeting on friday. (PHOTO/BOB AINE)

MBARARA – LCIV councilors for Mbarara Municipality have finally approved the budget for financial year 2019/2020 of UGX47.3bn as roads and engineering department takes the lion’s share of the budget.

According to the budget, the money for works and development has been increased from UGX 5,593,071,000 for the last financial year 2018/19 now to UGX 22,791,722,000 for FY 2019/20, educations has been reduced slightly from 14.639,779,000 for the last FY 2018/19 to UGX 14,017,753,000 for 2019/2020 Other sectors’ allocations like Health has been reduced from 3.634,402,000 for the last financial year now to UGX 2.779,196,000. Production and marketing has been reduced from UGX 310,731,000 for FY 2018/19 to now UGX 198,674,000 for FY 2019/2020.

Others are community based services whose allocations have been also cut from UGX1, 380,851,000 for the last financial year now to UGX 849,601,000 for FY 2019/2020. Finance department has been cut from UGX 1,520,533,000 to now UGX 1,242,022,000 for this financial year, administration costs have been increased from 3,994,378,000 for the last financial year to now UGX 4.168,891,000.

We have learnt that the total budget estimates have increased from UGX 32,860,474,000 of the last financial year to now UGX47, 383,487,000.

Mbarara councilors during the council meeting on friday. (PHOTO/Bob Aine)

However it should be noted that prior,  a section of 37 councilors out 49 had snubbed council meetings that were meant to approve this budget thrice on conditions that unless their demands are fulfilled they were not ready to sit at white house and approve the budget.

On Wednesday, councilors drafted their speaker Bonny Tashobya alleging that there are two budget draft estimates with varying figures and that they don’t know which one to approve.

On Friday, the speaker allowed them to table their petition on the floor of council but rejected the move to include it on the day’s agenda arguing that according to the rules of procedure, when the day is for approving the budget there is nothing that can be added on the agenda.

This attracted a heated debate but finally councilors unanimously agreed to continue with the meeting as speaker promised to call an extra ordinary council meeting next week to discuss the issues raised in the petition.

In the petition, they highlighted that one budget indicates UGX.6.4bn with a cumulative resource envelope of UGX.400m. The same draft has unspent balance of UGX.425m without indicating the source, It also has interest earnings from bank savings of UGX40m.

It also indicates by end of December 2018/19 budget, that council had realized a cumulative collection of UGX.3.55billions.

The second draft given on the last committee discussions indicates UGX6.99bn, unspent balance of UGX.575m without showing the source, interest earning on bank savings of UGX21m and a cumulative collection by end of December of UGX2.09billions.

“Comparing the two cumulative collections for the same budget for FY 2018/19 it has a difference of UGX.1.5bn hidden somewhere and on bank saving interest there is a difference of UGX19m. These contradictions are deliberate and under mind service delivery” The petition reads in part.

However councilors before passing the budget on Friday, grilled the municipal planner Patrick Kanamugira over the contradicting figures which they raised in their petition.

Nicodemus Mujuni,a councilor representing Kakoba ward asked the planner through the speaker to explain how those contradicting figures came in the budget before they subjected him to a lecture on a manila paper.

Kanamugira hesitated to explain but rather said there was a system error which cannot be rectified. “How can you tell us that it’s a system error yet a computer is commanded by a human being, you think we don’t understand how a system works?” Council Mujuni asked.

Drama ensued when Mujuni took him (Kanamugira) through how the figures are varying on a manila paper in the council as the rest of councilors and other technocrats kept looking on.

Councilors agreed and tasked the finance committee to investigate the budget and submit a report in the next council meeting but they constituted other five members who included Betty Tigefera,, Godfrey Tumuhimbise, Florence Bashabe and Nicodemus Mujuni to support the committee.

Councilors agreed to approve it with amendments



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