By Caleb Nasasira
The Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development released additional Shs 1,979,540,400 for the Dubai exposition 2020, across 6 MDAs before the team departed for the United Arab Emirates on September 29, 2021.
Daily Pepper has seen a copy of the letter from the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance and also Secretary to the Treasury, Ramathan Ggoobi to the accounting officers of the six entities.
The State Minister of Trade announced on September 26, 2021 that Shs 3bn had been released for the event from the Q1 2021/2022 (first quarter) to set up a self-built pavilion with an exhibition centre on the ground floor, office and conference facilities on the upper floor.
The Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB), which is the lead agency and in charge of the pavilion, had however written to Finance on September 13, 2021 to make the budget for the exposition reach Shs. 5bn in order to facilitate the participating sectors. The original Shs 3bn had already been planned for the pavilion.
Ggoobi narrated the development in his letter titled: “First quarter additional expenditure limit under the non-wage recurrent budget FY 2021/22” to the respective accounting officers.
“Reference is made to the letter Ref: UEPB/ED/21-087 dated 1 3th September, 2021 requesting for UShs. 5,283,067,000= across various MDAs to enable their participation in the Dubai 2020 Expo,” said Ggoobi. The Ministry of Finance after studying the request appreciated the “urgency” and decided to provide additional 1.97bn.
We have reviewed the requests in line with the budget provision for the respective institutions for FY 2021 /22 and observed the urgency to provide additional Quarter One Expenditure Limit amounting to UShs. 1,979,540,400= for the above purpose.
This is therefore, to authorize additional Expenditure Limits amounting to UShs. 1,979,540.400 (One billion, Nine hundred and seventy nine million, Five hundred and forty thousand, Four hundred Shillings Only) to your votes as indicated in Annex 1 attached,” said Ggoobi.
Ministry of Trade was allocated Shs 87,920,000, Uganda Export Promotion Board Shs977,420,400, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Shs276,000,000, Ministry of Agriculture Shs502,200,000, Uganda Investment Authority Shs96,000,000, Uganda Coffee Dev’t Authority Shs40,000,000—all totaling Shs1,979,540,400.
With barely two weeks to the event, Finance asked the 6 entities to hastily submit their warrant requests on the Integrated Financial Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) for the releases of the additional funds.
“You are requested to submit your warrant requests on the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) to facilitate release of funds,” said Ggoobi.
The Accountant General was also asked to immediately clear accounting warrants for the additional expenditure.
“By copy of this letter, the Accountant General is requested to issue Accounting Warrants up to the levels indicated in the Expenditure Limits schedule attached in Annex ,” said Ggoobi. The letter was copied to the Minister for Finance, Auditor General, Office of the Auditor General, Accountant General, Office of the Accountant General, Director Financial Management Services and Commissioner, Public Administration, MoFPED.
At the end, Uganda Export Promotion Board had bagged 3.9bn to organize the pavilion and position the country at the advantageous level to gain at the exposition.
Back home, many citizens on social media are not amused by Uganda’s performance at the Dubai Expo vis-à-vis the investment of earlier announced Shs 3bn investment. Some pictures from the expo showed Ugandan products casually and artlessly placed on rudimentary stalls.
The furry is exacerbated by allegations from some exhibitors, like Livara, that they were tossed up and down and not given considerable space or expected technical and strategic guidance from agencies representing the country.
When asked whether the said entities have so far provided the quantifiable expected returns on investment, the permanent secretary Ministry of Finance said he was still caught up in a meeting.
It is worth noting that on Monday Uganda signed a deal worth $650m and is expecting to make it reach $4bn by the end of the expo. Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija, whose sector oversees Uganda Investment Authority, signed the deal on behalf of Uganda. UIA got Shs 96m compared to the budget of other agencies like UEPB at Shs 3.977bn.