Home National ‘Parliament approval needed on supplementary expenditures’

‘Parliament approval needed on supplementary expenditures’

Hon Muwanga Kivumbi (standing) consults the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Mpuuga before he made his presentation

The Shadow Minister for Finance, Hon. Muwanga Kivumbi has challenged the Finance Minister’s authority to approve spending of supplementary funds without prior Parliament approval.

He insists that Parliament needs to safeguard its powers that check the approvals of the minister by either confirming or rejecting them.
“For a minister to come here [Parliament] and contend that after we pass a budget, he has been given leeway to revise that budget and spend three per cent of that money without Parliamentary approval is absolutely unconstitutional,” Muwanga Kivumbi said adding that, ’the power to appropriate is solely a preserve of Parliament’.

He added that the Supplementary Appropriation Bills would be rejected by the House if the expenditures they contained were not found to be unavoidable or unforeseeable.

The Attorney General, Hon. Kiryowa Kiwanuka however, justified the Finance Minister’s move to approve supplementary expenditure in line with the three per cent of the total national budget, saying it is catered for in the law.
“Under Article 156(2) (b) of the Constitution and Section 25 of the Public Finance Management Act, a supplementary expenditure not exceeding three per cent does not require the approval of Parliament because Parliament under the Act has already lifted that requirement,” said the Attorney General.

He said Article 156(2) (b) of the Constitution and Section 12 of the Budget Act make it a requirement that the money spent with the three per cent limit is presented before Parliament.
Kiryowa Kiwanuka noted that the Finance Minister has no powers to suppress allocations to votes within an approved budget without express approval of Parliament.

“An act by Parliament to disapprove the supplementary expenditure made under the three per cent legal limit offends the Public Finance Management Act because Parliament has already allowed it by law,” he said.

On Tuesday, 17 May 2022, the Budget Committee reiterated the position that any supplementary expenditures approved by the Minister for Finance out of parliamentary appropriation must be under unavoidable and unforeseeable circumstances.

Committee Deputy Chairperson, Hon. Wamakuyu Mudimi said that for any activity or item to be authorized by the minister within the three per cent legal limit prior to parliamentary approval, the activity must conform to the criteria for emergency.

While presenting the committee report on the Supplementary Appropriation (No.2) Bill, 2021, Wamakuyu said that there is a trend by the Finance Minister to authorize spending on activities initially rejected by Parliament during appropriation, using the legal provision of the three per cent limit.

The Bill was tabled before the House for approval of additional expenditure of over Shs1.7 trillion made during financial year 2018/2019.

However, on 21 May 2019, Parliament had approved a total Supplementary expenditure of over Shs1.2 trillion under Supplementary Schedules No.1 and No.2 for financial year 2018/2019.

This excluded additional funding for some ministries, departments and agencies, missions abroad, districts and municipal councils.
“The actions by the minister in effect circumvented parliamentary powers to appropriate the national budget,” he said.

Wamakuyu said the funds approved by Parliament but not captured in theBill, represent funds that were not released to the ministries, departments and agencies due to the closure of the financial year 2019/2020.
“We noted inconsistencies in the approvals made by Parliament against the estimates provided in the Supplementary Appropriations (No.3) Bill, 2021. These are explained by the three per cent legal limit authorized under section 25 of the Public Finance Management Act,” he said.

The committee report also observed that proposed supplementary appropriations for 10 votes under recurrent and development expenditure in the financial year 2020/2021 were lower than the expenditure approved by Parliament.
“The Finance Minister explained to the committee that Government runs a cash budget and the underperformance was explained by low collections due to the effects of Covid-19 Pandemic,” said Wamakuyu.

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