MPs raise concerns over Uganda’s debt burden

KAMPALA, January 13, 2024 – The increasing debt burden facing Uganda continues to bother Members of Parliament on the Budget Committee who have put the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to task on how to manage it.

According to the State Minister for Finance, Henry Musasizi, the total debt stock as of June 2023 stood at US$ 23.7 billion, compared to December 2022 when it stood at US$ 21 billion.

Musasizi disclosed the national debt figures while presenting the National Budget Framework Paper for financial year 2024/2025 – 2028/2029 before committee chaired by Patrick Opolot Isiagi, the Kacumbala County MP.

Musasizi said that despite the rise in Uganda’s overall public debt, government is managing resources through efficient allocation and limited borrowing in critical areas.
The minister added that of the current Shs 2.7 trillion of domestic arrears registered as of June 2023, government plans to set aside Shs 200bln in financial year 2024/2025 to pay off part of the arrears.

Otuke County Member of Parliament, Paul Omara tasked the minister to clarify contrasting reporting on public debt where the Auditor General’s report put the country’s debt at Shs 96 trillion, yet the Ministry of Finance reported Shs 86trn.
“You know the Auditor General is the auditor of government and whatever figure they give us, we take it. These are trillions of shillings; these are not small amounts. We think these could be problems from instability in exchange rates,” Omara said.

Dicksons Kateshumbwa, the Sheema Municipality MP alluded to the Charter of Fiscal Responsibility saying the domestic debt repayments to total revenue projected at 18.9 percent against the 13.6 percent target, is worrying for Ugandans.
“It is very worrying because debt repayments are eating away a huge portion of our revenues. So we are not complying with the charter and we need measures to stay within the projected range,” Kateshumbwa said.

Iddi Isabirye, the Bunya County South urged the minister to analyse the level of implementation of approved loans to assess their performance.

The Secretary to the Treasury, Ramathan Ggoobi said that with the growth of tourism receipts and exports through foreign-direct investors among others, the country’s fiscal deficit is reducing.
“The debt is sustainable. Uganda is fully participating in international credit markets where many countries in Africa struggle to gain access and cannot be allowed to borrow,” Ggoobi said.

He added that government has a good strategy to address the risks involved, saying the country’s macro-economic management is good.

Alex Ruhunda the Fort Portal Central Division legislator called for robust intervention by the Ministry of Finance into the tourism sector, which he said has recovered from the effects of the lockdowns posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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