Parliament Maintains Stand on AFCON2027 Success As Hoima Stadium Funds Approved

Parliament Maintains Stand on AFCON2027 Success As Hoima Stadium Funds Approved

Since the East African Pamoja bid to host the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) 2027 was approved by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the co-host nations have been busy with plans to put in place infrastructure that meets the international standards.

Key among the infrastructure that Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania must have in place are at least two stadia by each country so that the hosting rights are confirmed by 2025. And, it is Uganda that seems to be lagging behind in this venture with only the Mandela National Stadium, Namboole in place while the construction of Akii-Bua stadium in Lira city and Hoima Stadium in Hoima city are yet to start.

With Namboole this week getting the CAF approval to host international matches after renovation works, the Government through the National Council of Sports has to work round the clock to have Hoima and Akii-Bua, and several training facilities in place ahead of the 2025 inspection.

While rallying the lawmakers to approve a supplementary budget in which the start-up funds for the construction of the Hoima stadium were impeded, Speaker Anita Among, said that with Namboole approved, there is need for urgency on the construction of the other stadia.

All the other countries are already constructing, the only country that is lagging behind is Uganda and it is likely that if we don’t move faster, like we’ve moved faster on Namboole, that bid will be taken away from Uganda, said Among.

The Funds

Parliament passed a UGX 2.88 trillion supplementary schedule to the 2023/24 financial year budget and among the items was the UGX 152 billion appropriated for the construction of the Hoima stadium.

State Minister for Finance (General Duties), Henry Musasizi told Parliament that the UGX 152 billion budget could not wait for the new financial year because there are contractual obligations that have to be met before the end of July 2024.

Vote 166; National Council for Sports requires UGX 152 billion for the stadium in Hoima. This will enable the contractor M/s Suma to commence the construction works on Hoima stadium in time required by CAF, said Musasizi.

However, this did not pass without a fight from Shadow Finance Minister, Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda who questioned the decision by the Government to bring a supplementary request for the Hoima Stadium just 10 days after the House approved another supplementary budget. Ssemujju, Kira Municipality MP also raised concerns of the likely breach of the provisions of Section 25 of the Public Order Management Act, 2015  on grounds that the budget for the construction of the Hoima stadium was unforeseeable.

When did you win the bid to host AFCON for you not to have factored in the money in the budget; because this budget that we are going to pass today is a budget that will be implemented in one month? So what is that you cannot wait that is so urgent that you must fix it in the supplementary, he asked. 

Kiryowa Kiwanuka, Attorney General defended the supplementary budget saying that with lack of evidence on the availability of funds for the construction of the stadium, he has been reluctant to sign off the contracts presented by the Ministry of Education and Sports.

 If Parliament is happy to wait until the next financial year; the problem is we will lose timelines as far as deadlines are concerned. Unfortunately for me the law does not allow me to approve the contract without knowing the source of funds, he explained.

Away from the stadium, the other items of the supplementary budget, the third this financial year include; UGX 132.634 billion for the Uganda National Oil Company; UGX 2.5 billion to the Uganda Blood Transfusion Services; and, UGX 1.49 billion to the Uganda Embassy in Geneva to run activities related to Uganda’s Chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

Minister Musasizi while requesting Parliament’s approval to withdraw from the Petroleum Fund, revealed that the funding for the stadium and UNOC will be obtained from the current savings of UGX 400 billion.

Our petroleum fund account currently has UGX 400 billion, I propose to utilize UGX 284.6 billion in line with the Public Finance Management Act to finance acquisition of equity in EACOP and construction of Hoima City stadium, the Minister said.

The reason the Government is investing UGX 132.6 billion in the UNOC’s additional equity acquisition in the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project, according to Musasizi is to meet the cash call arising from delayed financial flows by financiers.

Ssemujju insisted that there is evidence that funds to finance the supplementary budgets have always been got from suppression of already appropriated priorities hence derailing service delivery.

Quoting from the Auditor General’s report for the financial year ending June 30th 2023, Ssemujju stated that the government has not been financing the national budgets 100 percent giving an example the 2022/23 financial year where the actual release was UGX 43 trillion against approved budget of UGX 52.4 trillion.

What the Auditor General is warning this Parliament against that each time you pass a supplementary here, you give a license to Musasizi and his group, to remove money from priorities you approved to their new priorities. Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), has only collected UGX 21 trillion against the target of UGX 29 trillion and if they work hard, they will make it UGX 23 trillion (by end of June), said Ssemujju.

Musasizi then assured Parliament that like the Hoima Stadium and EACOP funding, the money for the collection, processing and distribution of blood, and that for the Embassy in Geneva will not be got by suppressing other priorities. He said this money will be got from savings from the wages after an audit of the wage bill. 

Source: Parliament Watch

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