KAMPALA-Members of Parliament have expressed discontent over the prolonged delay by government to release money to the Road Fund for maintenance of roads.
MPs were dismayed that even when funds are released late, they are insufficient and have left many roads dilapidated.
Kitgum District Woman MP, Hon. Lillian Aber said that local governments are given funds that are insufficient to fix the roads.
“The Shs25 million given to some local governments is really a joke. If we can analyze the challenges we have encountered in our constituencies, we have lost people, the MPs have bought ambulances but they break down In a few months,” Aber said.
The concerns followed a statement by the Minister for State for Finance (Planning), Hon. Amos Lugoloobi on releases to the Uganda Road Fund presented on Wednesday, 17 August 2022.
Legislators complained of the meagre funds allocated to their districts and criticized the Finance Ministry for deliberately failing the Fund.
“Imagine a district like Isingiro is given Shs20 million; how do you expect people to benefit from this? How do you expect our people to develop?” said Hon. Stephen Kangwagye (Indep., Bukanga County).
MPs did not buy into Lugoloobi’s justification that financing of the Fund was affected by financial constraints.
“I am at pain; we said add shs1,000 on a litre of fuel and it will go to Road Fund. When you tabulate you get about shs1 trillion a year; why can’t we use this money?” asked Hon. Nathan Byanyima (NRM, Bukanga North).
The Uganda Road Fund Act stipulates the sources of funds to include fuel levies, road license fees, road and bridge tolls.
Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa said the ministry was loading the burden of road maintenance on MPs. “You are telling the public that it should be MPs to go and work on their roads; you are telling me to go and work on the roads in Ruhinda North,” said Tayebwa.
He said the Finance Ministry often dodges operationalization of the Fund and questioned whether the tax revenue meant to finance the Fund was diverted.
Lugoloobi said that only Shs5.7 billion had been released for maintenance of national roads and shs6.2 billion for district urban and community access roads as of July 2022.
He added that for the August- October quarter, shs18 billion was released to cater for national roads.
For the local government roads, Lugoloobi said the ministry was financially constrained.
“Whereas, the above special funds were legally created, it is no longer tenable to operationalize these funds given the current trends, reforms and the potential negative consequences,” said Lugoloobi.
Adjumani District Woman MP, Hon. Jesca Ababiku said government should come out and declare to the public what it is able to provide and relieve the leaders of pressure from the constituents.
“This statement confirms what the Minister of Finance recently said that the economy is limping. Our government should come out and be clear that our budget cannot be implemented so that as leaders, we are not put under pressure,” said Ababiku.
Tayebwa directed Lugoloobi to consult further on financing of the Road Fund and update Parliament on Tuesday, 20 August 2022.