Ministries Hoodwinked Parliament With 'Fake' Policy Statements Top story

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In short
In order to appear to beat the March 15 deadline State Minister for Planning David Bahati tabled fake policy statements in parliament two weeks ago. Records from the Clerk to Parliament office indicate that the documents that were tabled were withdrawn immediately.

Government ministries hoodwinked parliament when they hurriedly tabled non-existent policy statements in order to beat the deadline.

Ministerial policy statements are documents that set out the performance and plans of government agencies, linking them with their policy objectives. The statements are used by Parliament to assess the performance of every sector as provided for under the Budget Act (2001).

The statements, tabled on an annual basis, summarize the past performance of the sector and the plans for future expenditure and activities. They outline anticipated sectoral challenges and strategies to overcome them. They also present planned outputs and the costing; final work plans; cash plans; and staffing structure and procurement plans of the sector.

The Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) 2015 requires government ministries, departments and agencies to present their ministerial policy statements to Parliament for scrutiny by March 15, every year. The same law sets a May 31, as the deadline for the conclusion of budget debates and all resource allocations.

But Uganda Radio Network has learnt that in order to appear to beat the March 15 deadline State Minister for Planning David Bahati tabled fake policy statements in parliament two weeks ago. Records from the Clerk to Parliament office indicate that the documents that were tabled were withdrawn immediately.

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah today confirmed that all documents that were presented by the government were withdrawn for alleged 'polishing'. Parliament only has four policy statements on record.

Oulannya described this action by government ministries as highly irregular, an abuse of the process and the finance law.
 
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The Leader of Opposition in Parliament Winnie Kiiza also confirmed the withdrawal of policy statements by the ministries immediately after they were tabled. She reported to parliament that her analysts who are to work on the alternative policy statements could not access the ministerial policy statements with information that they had been withdrawn for polishing.
 
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The Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa told parliament that her office did not receive any notice from a minister to withdraw a policy statement from parliament. But she apologized for the mishap and described the situation as unfortunate.
 
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In 2017, the budget process for the 2017/2018 budget was also marred by the delayed presentation of ministerial statements and errors, among others. These anomalies reduced the budget exercise to a formality as parliament struggled to meet the May 31st deadline.

 The government then gave an excuse for the breakdown of the Program Based Budgeting (PBB) system which was adopted starting with the financial year 2017/2018. The Government said that the system then broke down at a critical time when ministries and government departments were supposed to present policy statements before parliament.

 

About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.