Parliament has cautioned the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development over last-minute corrections to the budget as Members of Parliament inch closer to passing of the national budget.
The caution follows a request from the State Minister for Finance in charge of general duties, Henry Musasizi, to lay on the table an addendum to the corrigenda during plenary on Wednesday May 17, 2023 chaired by Speaker Anita Among.
Parliament has a constitutional obligation to approve the budget estimates by the end of May where after, the President, through the finance minister shall formally present the national budget [Budget Speech] in June breaking down the approved budget into quarterly spending limits for Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
In her communication, Anita Among explained why she was evoking Rule 25 (1) of the Rules of Procedure to vary the Order Paper to accommodate the laying of the addendum to the corrigenda for the Draft Budget Estimates for the Financial Year 2023/2024.
“Honourable Members, the corrigenda seek to effect modifications to the draft budget estimates taking into consideration observations of the Budget Committee and correction of errors of omission and commission,” she said
Kira Municipality legislator, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, expressed concern that as a member of the budget committee, they were ready with their report based on the corrigenda previously laid on table but was surprised that new documents were being submitted without notice.
“Are they revising or bringing some new corrigenda? Do we still have a government because they keep throwing at us budget revisions?” he said.
The Leader of the Opposition, Matthias Mpuuga, said that since the minister has consistently demonstrated unreliability, he should present a commitment letter to ensure that no more documents are laid.
Whilst the Speaker implored the House to accept the minister’s apology, she directed him to put the commitment in writing.
“We live in a world of continuous improvement and I personally believe in continuous improvement. This will be the last time such a thing happens and this is the last document we are submitting,” Musasizi committed.
Following the laying of the corrigenda, the Chairperson of the Budget Committee, Patrick Isiagi, requested for an extension of time to incorporate the adjustments from the finance ministry.