Kasaija Runs to Parliament with Shs 284bn COVID-19 Budget

Finance and Economic Planning Minister Matia Kasaija had a tough time in Parliament as MPs raised questions about his Shs 284 billion supplementary budget request.

The budget request is intended to finance government’s response to the coronavirus disease that is ravaging world economies.

The lawmakers’ disagreement with Kasaija’s request is with how government intends to appropriate the money.

He was heckled as he gave a breakdown of the allocations that show that the government’s priority is with security as opposed to the health sector.

Kasaija told Parliament that, to support the supervision and implementation of the presidential directives geared towards mitigating spread of COVID-19, government intends to give Ministry of Security Shs 81 billion as compared to Shs 62 billion earmarked for Ministry of Health that is central in the fight against the virus.

Another Shs 59 billion will go to relief and disaster preparedness while Shs 36 billion will be given local governments.

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) will get Shs 30 billion and the ICT Ministry will walk away with Shs 14 billion.

However Budadiri West MP Nathan Nandala-Mafabi said that some of the money requested should have been drawn from vote 130 which collects debt repayment since all debt repayment was suspended due to coronavirus outbreak.

“I hoped that the Minister of Finance would have come to say that we have now got a window, that we have resources that we were supposed [to use] to pay [debts], and should apply [those resources] towards fighting COVID-19,” Nandala said.

With more MPs raising questions on government’s seriousness on helping the country out of the tough times, the State Minister for Planning, David Bahati rose up to plead to the legislators to allow the budget request since the Ministry of Health will be short of supplies in the coming one and a half weeks.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga referred Kasaija’s request to the House budget committee for scrutiny.

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