KAMPALA – Officials of Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), who are also members of Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) are seeking Shs47b as facilitating to local government leaders to supervise farmers undertaking projects in the wealth creation in their areas.
The request was made on Tuesday, January 21 in a meeting held between OWC officials and MPs who had gathered to scrutunise the 2020/2021 national budget framework paper which highlighted that the expenditure as one of the unfunded priorities, with the Army arguing that the funds will be used to pay local leaders to supervise farmers as they take on government programs.
However, the budget request enlisted a number of questions among MPs like Army Representative in Parliament, Ivan Koreta who questioned how OWC starts to pay leaders who are elected and others are appointed to carry out such mandates, saying it is the role of these leaders to supervise government programs, warning that if this kind of payment is granted, it will be a form of bribery.
He was backed by Janet Okori-Moe, Chairperson Agriculture Committee who told off the OWC officials that it is not their work to pay local leaders, adding that Parliament is already disappointed with local government failing to show value for agricultural grants passed onto them hence threatening to rally the House to stop passing such grants.
She said, “It isn’t your work to pay Local Governments to do their work. This Committee also appropriates and makes recommendations on Local Government agricultural grants which every local government receives but as we speak now, we interacted with the ministry of local government and the committee isn’t convinced about the utilization of that money. So if you want to give local governments money to eat again, I think the committee will not give you that permission.”
Worth noting is the fact that Operation Wealth Creation presented a budget of Shs20b for the 2020/2021 financial year, which also indicated that the body would work with a budget shortfall of Shs77b whose expenditure items remain unfunded.
Among the unfunded priorities was the 50 vehicles, as well as Shs7b to organize farmers into parish-based enterprise special groups for better markets than letting then operate on individual basis.
It should be recalled that President Yoweri Museveni established the Operation Wealth Creation programme in 2013 saying the programme to spearhead the eradication of poverty as well as facilitate the boast in the growth of household income through agricultural mechanisation.
Museveni defended the establishment of OWC after dismantling the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADs) saying the body was spending most of its money in payment of wages and ordered to have NAADs’ responsibilities handed over to Operation Wealth Creation and named his brother, Salim Saleh as head of the project.
In a related development, Lt. Gen. Charles Agina, Deputy Chief Coordinator OWC appealed to Parliament to help them get their own accounting officers as they seem not to clearly coordinate with their current supervisors the NAADS given the nature of their operations.
Angina said, “Our recommendation is to get our own Accounting Officer because our current accounting entity seems not to understand the challenges associated with the nature of our operation. When we asked them to buy vehicles that are in line with Toyota because we can easily get them spare parts and repair them upcountry, in their own way, they decided to buy us Ford Rangers, Isuzu, Tata, Nissan all these vehicles are managed and supervised by agencies in Kampala so you can’t have effective repairs of these vehicles upcountry.”