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Land compensation cited for stalled govt projects

Hon. David Bahati, the Minister of State for Finance in charge of Planning appearing before the House on Thursday (PHOTO/Courtesy)

KAMPALA – The finance state minister for planning, Hon. David Bahati, has faulted the process of land compensation for causing delays in most of the government’s projects, with some dragging on for up to two years.

Bahati was responding to concerns raised by Members of Parliament during plenary chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, on Thursday, 29 September 2019.

The MPs were debating a report by the Committee on National Economy on the state of indebtedness, grants and guarantees.

Bahati said that procurements of some of the projects have been adversely affected by up to 30 per cent of the project money being spent on land compensation.

“For example, the Karuma Dam project was delayed by up to two and a half years by a Ugandan who owned part of the land occupied by the current dam site and took the government to court claiming under-compensation,” he added.

Bahati said this is the trend with many other projects that have so many people requiring compensation and therefore, affecting the timelines.

The MPs had earlier noted with great concern the rising debt figures for the country and the rate of absorption of the funds borrowed by the government in relation to the time frame in which they should be paid among other things.

The Aringa North MP, Hon. Godfrey Onzima said that there is a tendency of duplication of loans among different government entities for the same purpose.

“You will find two ministries borrowing to finance the same purpose; there is need to centralise the borrowing function to one institution so that these projects are centrally monitored and duplication of projects is avoided,” Onzima noted.

Hon. Silas Aogon (Indep, Kumi Municipality) said that there is no equitable allocation of the loans across the regions yet everyone contributes to their payment.

“We the people from Kumi district have never benefitted from the loans we hear being borrowed yet we pay taxes that are used to pay back these loans,” he asked.

Aogon also noted that it is also common place for a loan to be taken by the government that is more than the actual funds required so that some corrupt government officials can benefit.

According to the committee report in 2018, Uganda’s total standing debt is at 42 per cent of the national GDP with Shs28.5 trillion owed in external debt and Shs13.5 trillion in domestic debt.

This signifies an increase in the risk of public debt sustainability if the productive capacity of the economy grows at a much lower rate.

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