Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga has noted that the defence ministry will need to meet additional expenditures in order to sustain Ugandan troops in South Sudan.
Kiyonga was appearing before Parliament’s Defence and Internal Affairs Committee chaired by Mubende Woman MP Benny Namugwanya for the consideration of the Defence Ministry financial year 2014/2015 ministerial policy statement.
Kiyonga had been tasked by the Committee to explain why no indication had been made in the ministry’s financial year budget on operations in South Sudan, the cost implication of the South Sudan expedition, the contribution of IGAD on the operations and when UPDF was pulling out.
Kiyonga explained that in the 2014/2015 F/Y budget proposal no provision had been made for sustaining UPDF troops in South Sudan because at the time when the ministry was preparing the budget, they had expected that the troops would have pulled back by this financial year.
He said that the troops have not pulled back as anticipated because they went there to prevent possible genocide in South Sudan and that they plan to leave when there is an alternative force to take care of that situation.
Kiyonga noted that currently there are troops being deployed in South Sudan under IGAD citing those of Kenya and Ethiopia which he said UPDF has to first harmonize with.
“Once we know they are in place and effective, then our troops will return and that means therefore we will have to continue to do some additional expenditure in order to sustain our forces in South Sudan”, Kiyonga noted.
Kigulu South MP Milton Muwuma noted that the issue of defence ministry not making a budget provision for UPDF troops in South Sudan cannot apply since parliament does not work in anticipation and that this may mean a supplementary request which has kept denting the image of the defence sector.
In the last financial year 2013/2014, UPDF received a supplementary funding of 170billion and of this 25.1billion was to support the UPDF operations in South Sudan. The committee asked the defence ministry to give a break down on how the total 170billion supplementary was spent and the 25.1billion in South Sudan.
According to the breakdown provided by the Defence Ministry to the Committee of 170billion supplementary, the ministry spent 30.7billion on food; 85billion was classified expenditure, 25.1billion on Operations in South Sudan, 9.9billion on Fuel-Land forces, 12.9billion on fuel air force, 2.5billion on travel abroad, 1billion on treatment abroad and 2.6billion on medical (hospital bills).
In addition, in the 2013/2014 financial year Defence Ministry had an approved budget 1trillion shillings.
Defence Minister Kiyonga provided the Defence Committee with a breakdown of the costs provided to the UPDF troops in South Sudan from January 2014 to March 2014 to which the supplementary of 25.1billion was provided.
Some of the items on which the money was spent include Fuel and Lubricants 2billion, Hot meals 1.7billion, accommodation items 2.2billion, clothing 3.9billion, hired transport 5.1billion, Fuel JET 4.4billion, evacuation of civilians from South Sudan 2.3billion and others.
Meanwhile, MPS sitting on the Defence and internal affairs Committee have come out to contest the figures provided by the Defence Ministry to the Committee saying that the money government has spent in South Sudan must be more than what has been provided.
Hassan Kaps Fungaro, the Shadow Minister for Defence and Security said that the expenditures are under declared saying that there are a lot of off budget funding which are never declared and that the defence ministry has a smart way of hiding the expenditures under classified expenditure.
He cited that in every security sector citing defence, police, ISO and others most of the expenditures are now hidden under classified expenditure saying that the security sector needs to be reformed and all the security institutions be put under one ministry citing the Ministry of Defence and security so that the budget is under one ministry and Parliament improves its oversight role.
Kyadondo East MP Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda says that the figures provided to the committee are false saying that according to his calculation the tax payer parts with more than 300million shillings per day on Troops in South Sudan and over 500million shillings per day for Ugandan Troops to stay in Somalia.
He questioned why Parliament keeps passing money for the country’s troops to fight in other countries citing that the country’s performance in terms of infrastructure according to the worldbank reports is at 29% having an infrastructure gap of about 71%.
He noted that a country that cannot sort out its infrastructure needs cannot be passing money evert year for its army to fight in another country.