By AWORI ESTHER LUCY
KAMPALA- SHIFTMEDIA- The approval of Shs282 billion by Parliament didnt come as a surprise, it was just a matter of when.
The approved monies include Shs 18.5 billion for Covid-19 vaccines as an advance payment for the 18 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine for 9 million vulnerable Ugandans.
Shs 31 billion is for the purchase of more face masks by the ministry of Health, Shs 28 billion for purchase of ambulances, Shs 43 billion for the Electoral Commission to clear arrears for the biometric voter verification machines used in the recently concluded general election.
Remember last year parliament approved over shs20b for purchase of face masks that were substandard and generally lacking in quality. Though over 30 million Ugandans were destined to get the masks, many still missed out.
On Tuesday, parliament deferred its clearance of the funds following a disagreement by MPs in regards to a Shs 12.1 billion request under the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) to settle outstanding compensation for 6 beneficiaries.
The contention followed a letter by ULC chairperson, Beatrice Byenkya Nyakaisiki who raised a red flag on the approval of funds saying that her commission was not privy to the list of beneficiaries.
However, Patrick Opolot Isiagi (Kumi NRM), parliament’s budget committee vice chairperson on Thursday reported that the stand-off between ministry of Lands and the ULC had been resolved and list of beneficiaries for compensation acknowledged.
Isiagi recommended that parliament approves the funds and despite resistance from a section of MPs led by Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal, the funds got a nod from majority of MPs.
Some of the beneficiaries on the list include Kasiya Rwabukurukuru with land at Kiyunga, Sheema (Shs 6.43 billion), Stephen Peter Nagenda of Kibale, Rwanswa (Shs 1.06 billion) and Julius Busuulwa of Buyaga in Kibaale (Shs 1.4 billion). Others are Natalia Namuli (Shs 1.6 billion), Yisaka Lwakana (Shs 125.3 million) and Mugisha Geoffrey (1.49 billion), all with land at Buyaga, Kibaale.
Besides the land compensation, parliament also approved Shs 10.4 billion for Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) as additional costs to conduct national exams during the Covid-19 pandemic, Shs 7.6 billion compensation to Dodoviko Mwanje and Medard Kiconco who will each get Shs 3.8 billion.
The two are being compensated by the government for their land in Ndeeba on which St. Peters Church of Uganda (COU) sits and Lusanja, Mperewe where hundreds of families were evicted respectively.
Under State House, parliament approved a request for Shs 2.27 billion to cater for the Anti-tick Vaccine Development Initiative and establishment of Ngoma Field Tick farm, laboratory restructuring, expression and production of proteins, equipment and personnel expenses among others.
The Uganda Cancer Institute also gets Shs 1.28 billion to cater for outstanding payment to Ms Roko Construction Limited for pending certificate arrears, Shs 600 million for Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Covid-19 activities, Shs 1.45 billion for Mandela National Stadium to meet staff, administrative and operational costs and others.
The approval of this 292 billion supplementary budget for the financial year 2020/2021 comes after earlier supplementary approvals by parliament worth Shs 4.224 trillion mainly towards the Covid-19 pandemic response last year.