KAMPALA – The Minister of State for Planning, in the Ministry of Finance David Bahati has tasked Parliament’s National Economy Committee to summon the World Bank Country Director for Uganda, Antony Thompson to explain why the global body backed out on promise to support the 2019/2020 national budget to a tune of UGX375B.
Bahati told Parliament that the 20l9/2020 budget is facing a number of constraints including; URA shortfall in revenue of UGX1.873T, additional expenditure pressures of UGX1.432T, Non-receipt of World Bank budget support funds of UGX375B and Non-receipt of capital gains tax of UGX225B (USD 60million), constraints bringing the total revenue resource shortfall in the FY 2019/2020 to UGX2.473T.
The 2019/2020 national budget deficit prompted the Ministry of Finance to seek Parliamentary approval to borrow Euros600M approximately UGX2.4T from both Stanbic Bank and Trade Development Bank to finance the 2019/2020 national budget deficit.
While appearing before the Committee to explain how the budget deficit came about, Bahati told lawmakers that the cash isn’t coming in as anticipated with the only option on table is having Government cut on its planned activities, an option he says isn’t possible because cutting on wages of public servants would attract lawsuits bearing in mind these civil servants have running contracts.
Asked by Syda Bbumba, Chairperson National Economy Committee why World Bank backtracked on its offer of budget support of $100M, Bahati claimed World Bank never issued any reasons but simply told Government that they had withdrawn their offer.
Bahati explained that despite Government holding talks with the two sides agreeing on terms and conditions, which were met by Uganda, World Bank changed its mind.
“We had done everything they asked, but at the end of the day, they said they are not going to do it. Depending on these people is hard, I can’t tell you there was any serious reason but in the middle of the year, they changed their mind, that is why we need to grow our economy. We have told the World Bank to work in a diplomatic manner. You can call the Country Manager to explain,” said Bahati.
However, Bahati’s explanation was met with a pinch of salt from Bbumba who told him that the Committee got contrary information to what he is telling parliament when they held a breakfast meeting with members of the Committee.
The revelation of a secret meeting between World Bank and Parliament angered Bahati who castigated the global bank for acting against the diplomatic norms, wondering if World Bank has now started bypassing the Executive to deal with the Legislature.
He said, “We sat with World Bank on table and they said they will give us money in this financial year, the lesson we have learnt is that before we get money of that nature, we don’t have to provide for it in the budget.”
Bbumba defended World Bank saying the meeting wasn’t secretive but only an engagement held with the National Economy Committee and she was backed by Keefa Kiwanuka (Kiboga East) who said the committee should take interest on why the World Bank budget support wasn’t received.
Bahati warned the Committee against engaging in the China-US wars, saying World Bank is being used to fight China because of its strong relations with Uganda.
“There are wars we don’t want to get involved in, there has been a move by the western world to resist china and would like you to call the World Bank Country Manager. If you are going to get money for the World Bank for Karuma dam, it will take 20years but China took us 6months. There are complicated things you shouldn’t take on facial value.”