UNRA, Road Fund choke on budget cuts

Officials from the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and the Uganda Road Fund (URF) have lamented to Parliament’s Committee on Physical Infrastructure over budget cuts which they say is freezing operations.

Appearing before the Hon. Dan. Atwijukire led committee, UNRA’s Executive Director, Allen Kagina said the Ministry of Finance has in this quarter, already complicated affairs with further cuts.
“This quarter, the Permanent Secretary [Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development]/ Secretary to Treasury has communicated a cash limit of Shs424.7 billion for Vote 113 [UNRA], representing 17 per cent of the approved annual budget,” she said.

This budget cut, added Kagina has shattered UNRA’s expectations.
“This release is way below the projected 35 per cent cash flow requirement for the first quarter of this financial year considering the amount of debt that was carried forward from last financial year,” she said.

On works and land acquisition, UNRA has received Shs50 billion against the projected Shs475 billion.

Non-wage recurrent expenditure has been given Shs4.7 billion, and not the Shs9.7 billion initially budgeted.

For URF, Executive Director Eng. Andrew Grace Naimanye said he has had his agency’s budget ‘distorted’.
“…the URF budget for Financial Year 2023/24 is now Shs401.9 billion translating into a reduction of Shs86 billion equivalent to 17.6 per cent when compared with Financial Year 2022/23 funding levels,” he said.

Additionally, Eng Naimanye said his agency will have to contend with a reallocation of their funds to other entities.
“The aforementioned reduction is attributed to Shs20 billion that was reallocated within the infrastructure transport services working to Uganda Airlines and a further Shs66 billion by Parliament from the budget and reallocated to KCCA [Kampala Capital City Authority] for roads drainage maintenance to be disbursed directly by Ministry of Finance,” he said.

Hon. Henry Kibalya (NRM, Bugabula County South) sympathized with the entities saying for the country to have quality roads, all supplementary allocations in this financial year should go to infrastructure.
“I think as Members of Parliament, we should mobilise and ensure all the supplementary budgets that will come, we put our foot on the ground and allocate them all to these entities [for infrastructure],” he said.

Rukiga County MP, Hon.  Roland Ndyomugyenyi said the solution lies in budgeting on the basis of the money the country actually has.
“The PS/ST has already reduced their cash limit for this quarter.  I wonder whether you are going to call the PSST to come here; we should only budget for what is available; what is the rationale of giving UNRA 17 per cent,” he said.

Committee Chairperson,  Hon. Atwijukire was, instead, concerned about the quality of work and value for money, which he said could be the main focus.
“At what point do we do the audit…do we measure and ascertain the integrity of the roads that we construct? In Kampala, you are filling potholes with yellow soil, and you find that it cost Shs10 billion; that’s why we need to have a tour so that we see what you have done with that money that we have given you,” he said.