Uganda: Budget Committee questions role of EAC Ministry
The MPs are concerned that of the ministry’s budget of shs30.6 billion, shs21 billion will be spent on subscription into the community, according to the Budget framework paper of the Ministry
Do they have any role to play as far as the East African community is concerned, especially the stages of the customs union, monetary union and common market
Members of the Budget Committee have questioned the role of the Ministry of East African Community Affairs over its reported failure to engage the East African Community Membership on trade barriers.
The East African Community Affairs Committee chaired by Hon Noeline Kisembo Basemera was on Monday, 24 January 2022 presenting the budget framework paper for the Ministry of East African Community.
The MPs are concerned that of the ministry’s budget of shs30.6 billion, shs21 billion will be spent on subscription into the community, according to the Budget framework paper of the Ministry.
The committee also queried the Shs1.8 billion request for sensitising Ugandans about the East African Community.
Hon Elijah Mushemeza (NRM, Sheema South) questioned why with the continued border closure in Rwanda, the ministry has not indicated how they plan to bring it to an end.
“I have not seen a budget proposal on how to deal with issues of borders, because if the borders are closed and you are talking of non-tariff barriers and improvement of trade, there is a problem there,” Mushemeza said.
Kassanda North MP, Hon Patrick Nsamba Oshabesaid the ministry needs to devise a strategy for the closed borders and the issue of rejection of Ugandan products in East Africa.
“Do they have any role to play as far as the East African community is concerned, especially the stages of the customs union, monetary union and common market,” Oshabe said.
Hon John Baptist Nambeshe (NUP, Manjiya County) said the East African Community Ministry needs to show why it should not be put under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“I am a promoter of the spirit of the East African Community but Iam beginning to question if this ministry should not be merged under foreign affairs. Better budgeting would be for development instead of having that which is consumptive,” he said.
Kinkinzi County West MP, Hon James Kaberuka said there is a need to dig further to ascertain why Kenya, Tanzania, and other states keep rejecting Ugandans products in the wake of the East African integration.
Amolatar District Woman Representative, Hon Agnes Atim Apeasaid much of the Ministry’s budget is going for subscription to the East African community and not development.
“This ministry seems to just be contributing to the EAC. Do we need to have a whole Ministry that just does this or they should be doing something more,” Apea said.
Hon Catherine Ndamira Atwikiire the Kabale District woman MP said that the people in Kabale continue to suffer from the closure of the border with Rwanda as business has stalled.
“At least in a month, a person is shot dead and we are simply called to pick the dead. It is Uganda following the rules of East African Integration but the rest are not,” she said.
Hon Gyavira Ssemwanga (NRM, Buyamba County) said the ministry’s proposal to sensitise Ugandans on the relevance of integration in the wake of COVID-19 is not a priority.
“I would advise that the ministry is revised and the way they need to spend money”, he said.
The Budget Committee Vice-chairperson, Hon Ignatius Mudimi Wamakuyu said Ugandan farmers are suffering after the Government allowed rice from Kenya to flood the Ugandan market.
“Why are our farmers are not protected?” he said.
The EAC Committee chairperson, Hon Noeline Kisembo Basemera however,defended the budget of the ministry saying the activities to be carried out are key. She says for instance many Ugandans don’t understand the integration and sensitizing them is key.
She also said that on the issues of the border closure and trade barriers, some of those are being negotiated at a higher level.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.