According to a Valentines Day article in The East African, Ugandans won’t be feeling the love for at least three years as the government tries to recover financially from the incumbent party’s looting of the treasury to fund their campaigns.
Over a third of the national budget was spent in January alone, the month before elections, and over 85% of the overall budget has been spent at the halfway point of the fiscal year:
By December 2010, the midway point of the Ugandan financial year, Ush6.4 trillion ($2.75 billion) had been appropriated of the Ush7.3 trillion ($3.14 billion) 2010/11 national budget and of this, Ush3 trillion ($1.29 billion) had been spent.
In January, parliament approved a supplementary budget of Ush602 billion ($260 million), pushing the total figure to Ush8 trillion ($3.4 billion) following additional budget allocations for State House, the Electoral Commission, the army and the Inspectorate of Government.
Within a few weeks, Finance Minister Syda Bbumba admitted that the government was broke, a statement that invited uproar and scrutiny of the government’s fiscal discipline.
On closer scrutiny of public finances, it turns out that 85 per cent of the entire budget has been spent, but more importantly, Ush3.2 trillion ($1.3b) was blown in January alone, an official at the Ministry of Finance said.
Not only does this mean that Uganda will need to limp through the next five months on about $400 million, cutting needed services, but it means the next few years will be tight as well. The government will either need to increase its debt burden or print more money, which will push inflation higher at a time when many citizens are already feeling the pinch of rising prices.
There is also rising frustration about an unexplained $3 million handed out to MPs to “monitor government programs” as reported in The Monitor newspaper. With no accountability attached to the payout, it is widely seen as a bribe and many of the opposition party MPs are making a statement by returning the funds.
One critical example of a cut in important services that has already reached crisis mode was brought to the public’s attention by a patients’ strike at the government-run Mulago Hospital. An article in the New Vision reports on some patients waiting for months for critical operations.
On the bright side, hopefully all of this money that has been distributed throughout the country will be spent here in Uganda, and the GDP will actually be boosted by in the coming months.
Election Funding: Uganda is Broke (East African)
Ugandan Presidency Buying Votes as Election Approaches (Black Star News)
Mark D. Jordahl – Kampala