KAMPALA, January 18, 2024 – Parliament’s Budget Committee has rejected a request of Shs 10 billion to construct the National Planning Authority [ NPA ] House in Kampala, saying government must first utilise the former Bwebajja Hotel it acquired to accommodate its agencies that are renting.
While scrutinising the budget allocations to the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development for the 2024/2025 financial year yesterday, MPs said funds were allocated to refurbish the former Bwebajja hotel along Entebbe Road to no effect.
“In the last Parliament, we passed a supplementary budget for redesigning the Bwebajja place; they wanted to remodel it for government entities to relocate there, but it is now over four years, and nothing has been done,” said Kasilo County MP, Elijah Okupa.
He he was worried that the Bwebajja building was degenerating and urged government to update Parliament on plans for its remodeling.
This was during the meeting between the Budget Committee and the Committee on Finance, Planning, and Economic Development where the Finance Committee chairperson, Amos Kankunda, presented a report on the National Budget Framework Paper for the finance ministry.
The MPs proposed that before Parliament approves any budget for constructing government offices, there should be scrutiny on the vacant government-owned facilities that could be occupied.
“The National Planning Authority has little office space, and we know it; they are squeezed, but we have vacant offices at the Office of the Prime Minister; we need to look at other government facilities that are not using their space before approving this,” said Tororo North County, Geofrey Ekanya.
Ekanya said that not all government organisations seeking to build new offices are in dire need, and claimed that some that have built are making money by renting out part of office space.
He proposed that the Budget Committee scrutinise all the funds allocated for constructing new offices before it could settle the NPA request.
Legislators said this was critical considering the rising public debt burden and the low rate of domestic revenue generation, per the latest finance ministry updates.
Further, the MPs questioned why government prioritised fencing, titling, and surveying privately run industrial parks budgeted at Shs 6 billion.
Buikwe County South MP, Michael Bayigga also asked that before the committee approves Shs 55.96 billion meant for recruitment of 1,278 staff at Uganda Revenue Authority [URA], an investigation should be carried out on the alleged illegal recruitment of 600 staff.
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