HEALTH BUDGET DRAMA: Kadaga, Mbabazi Clash
Uganda Parliament and the executive have again locked horns over the proposed budget cuts to raise funding for the limping health sector.
In a stormy Parliamentary debate on Tuesday, legislators stood their ground, saying they would not pass the 2012/13 budget unless more funds were allocated to increase salaries for medical workers and also recruit 6,000 more doctors.
The development came just a day after President Yoweri Museveni met the legislators at State House, Entebbe, where he told MPs that he would not allow a deduction of “even a single coin” from the Defence Ministry, saying such a move would place the country’s security in jeopardy.
Museveni told the MPs it would have been reckless and wrong for somebody to have advised him during the NRA war to use his scarce ammunition to attack a target in order to get clothing, important though they were, instead of attacking a unit where he would get more ammunition to sustain the war effort which would, in due time, also solve the army’s welfare problems, including clothing.
“This is because it is very bad to paralyze the functions of the Government. It also sends wrong signals to the public and to the investors as if there is a crisis in the country. This is not good when it comes to attracting investments. Besides, the majority of the members in Parliament and on all the committees are NRM members,” said Museveni.
He further noted that cutting the Defence budget would trigger tensions in the army and cause spark instability and possibly a coup.
But during the Tuesday debate, Hon. Chris Baryomunsi said a Shs15 billion cut on the Ministry of Defence would not jeopardize national security compared to the poor health of Ugandans.
Baryomunsi said the health sector needed more attention than Defence, adding billions of shillings have been injected in the military, leaving other sectors “starving.”
MP Mukitale appealed to government to end blackmail of Parliament as it demands for resources to improve service delivery in the health sector.
Mukitale was joined by Abdu Katuntu who said many ministries have a lot of wasteful expenditure which can be reallocated to the health sector.
He said time to save the health sector was “now or never.”
“The people dying are the people you secured votes from,” said Katuntu.
MP Celinah Nebanda questioned government priorities, adding she was shocked by government’s stubborn stance on not cutting the Defence budget to raise funds to “save lives.”
The MPs who clashed with government last week over Shs39.2 bn required as additional funding to the health sector, were debating the budget for 2012/13.
Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi took to the podium and reaffirmed government's opposition to the move by legislators to make reallocations through 30% cuts on ministry budgets.
Mbabazi said although he appreciated the contributions of members, government was very conscious of the state of the health sector.
Mbabazi, Kadaga clash
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga threw the spanner in the works when she said that during the LRA insurgency government ordered budget cuts for all ministries across the board to fund the war and this happened.
“Why don't we have budget cuts to fund the health sector?” wondered Kadaga, who is said to be at loggerheads with Mbabazi.
“Yes, I also support urgent move to recruit 1,000 midwives,” affirmed Kadaga, attracting a deafening applause from excited legislators.
Kadaga showed she was on the side of legislators demanding for budget cuts and directed that government meets the Parliament budget committee to harmonize the position on re-allocations to the health sector and report to Parliament with an agreed position on Wednesday.
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Updated on 2013-06-04 10:39
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