The parliamentary committee on presidential affairs has directed the minister in charge of the Presidency to secure adequate funding for security in the 2018/19 national budget.
Presenting a brief to the committee on the budget framework paper for Office of the President today, minister Esther Mbayo said efforts to secure adequate funding from the Finance ministry have always yielded no fruit.
According to the minister, out of Shs 118 billion allocated to the ministry for the financial year 2017/18, only 50 per cent had been released by December last year.
Security minister, Gen Henry Tumukunde, complained that underfunding of the Internal Security Organization (ISO) is a threat to the economy.
“How do you intend to run a good economy when you don’t have security?” he asked, adding that since tourism is a big cash cow, tourists need to be assured of security.
“The baseline for security is intelligence. If you murder the baseline, you are actually handling postmortem.”
While ISO requires Shs 22.25 billion to procure 134 motor vehicles, only Shs 482 million was allocated, leading to a funding gap of Shs 21.76 billion.
Although the committee recommends that funds for transport equipment be released, Mbayo told committee members that she consulted the Finance ministry “on the matter, but without success”.
Tumukunde asked the committee to give him time so he can discuss the threat that under-funding security and intelligence entails.
“No one will convince me that this country doesn’t have money; we know where money goes. My question is: is it simply the absence of money or [wrong] priorities?” he asked.
Tumukunde’s appeal for more funding to security was unanimously supported by the committee members including Simeo Nsubuga (Kassanda South), Col Fred Mwesigye (Nyabushozi), Ibrahim Kasozi (Makindye East), and committee chairperson Jessca Ababiku (Adjumani district), among others.
Mwesigye argued that ISO should get its own vote to efficiently execute its mandate.
“If we are to move our economy [forward] and secure tourists, we should do something to security. Scattering resources in other sectors might not help us,” he said.
Speaking to The Observer after the meeting, Mbayo said under-funding of security “is an issue that we have really tried as much as possible to address”.
“But the problem has been with [the ministry of] Finance; all the time we write to remind them about funding ISO, they tell us everybody is constrained,” she said. “So, basically we don’t have much to say because this is an issue we have discussed with the President himself….and he knows that Uganda has to remain secure.”