By Patience Ahimbisibwe
Kampala — The Education minister, who is also the First Lady, Ms Janet Museveni, has apologised for failing to submit the sector’s policy statement to Parliament on time to enable approval of the ministry’s budget for next financial year.
“Allow me to apologise for the regrettable shortcomings portrayed by our handing in an incomplete ministerial policy statement but I must add that this was caused by unavoidable circumstances in our system,” Ms Museveni said while appearing before the Parliamentary Education committee on Friday.
The Kalungu West Member of Parliament, Mr Joseph Ssewungu, had initially demanded that the minister, who was flanked by State Minister for Higher Education John Chrysostom Muyingo, State Minister of Sports Charles Bakkabulindi, Permanent Secretary Alex Kakooza and Undersecretary Aggrey Kibenge be asked to leave until their policy statement had been submitted before the Clerk to Parliament.
“This ministry never tabled a policy statement. It was a dummy. How are we going to proceed when they never presented their policy statement?” Mr Ssewungu asked.
After a discussion with the Committee’s chairperson, Mr Jacob Opolot, the latter asked Bunyaruguru MP John Ntamuhiira Twesigye, who had chaired the previous committee meeting, to present his report.
Mr Twesigye said the statement that had been presented was “incomplete which would make their work difficult to proceed until the policy statement was laid before Parliament”.
Cause of the delay
However, later Mr Opolot ruled in favour of the First Lady to present what she had. Ms Museveni explained that the delay was caused by other votes under the ministry including public universities who had refused to submit their budget until the first week of April.
In addition, the Ministry of Education had requested Ministry of Finance to authorise adjustment in allocation of indicative planning figures for local governments which was only granted on March 13 two days to the deadline of submission of policy statement to Parliament.
“The Permanent Secretary wrote to all university secretaries of public universities directing them to capture all forms of off budget to be received as part of declared revenue for 2019/2020 and for us to reflect this revenue in the ministerial policy statement,” Ms Museveni said.
She added: “They didn’t fulfil this requirement until the first week of April arguing that the allocation granted by Ministry of Finance was far below their projected income. By implication, the ministry could not go ahead to consolidate and submit the ministerial policy statement as expected.”
Ms Museveni also said they had received an additional funding on March 26 of Shs98.53 billion to cater for staffing in newly constructed Seed secondary schools, grant for 100 secondary and 23 primary schools, fill gaps in schools with acting head-teachers and deputies which had to be incorporated in the 2019/2020 budget.
Ms Museveni said their budget had been projected to raise to Shs3.28 trillion in the 2019/2020 budget from Shs2.781 trillion currently. Wages will consume at least 56.13 per cent of the total budget.
“The share of the Education budget over the national budget is projected to reduce from 11.08 per cent to 10.26 per cent, which is still below the recommended target of 15 per cent” Ms Museveni said.
She noted that a number of critical activities will remain unfunded in next financial year’s budget including rolling out of the lower secondary curriculum which needs Shs143.93 billion, recruitment of primary teachers and Shs7.5 billion to enable the Higher Education Students’ Financing Board give tuition loans to more students.