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Uganda allocates Shs 16.2bn for UPDF stay in South Sudan

April 26, 2015 (KAMPALA) – Ugandan tax payers will have to pay an extra Shs 16.2bn in the next financial year for their army’s (UPDF) continued stay in South Sudan,its defense budget showed.

Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni visits his soldiers in South Sudan’s Jonglei state on 19 February 2014 (PPU)

The increase in Uganda’s defense budget spending was reportedly challenged by lawmakers on the defense and internal affairs committee last week.

For instance, in addition to the additional defense expenditures, the MPs reportedly demanded to know what the original cost was.

“They [lawmakers] asked [defense] minister Crispus Kiyonga to produce details of the previous expenditure since the army entered South Sudan in December 2013,” the Observer newspaper reported.

The minister, who was appearing before MPs to defend his ministry’s Shs 1.4 trillion budget for fiscal year 2015/16 reportedly declined to disclose expenditure details, saying it would jeopardize the mission.

Several MPs on the defense committee, however, argued that Ugandan needed such details since as they directly foot these bills.

“In any democracy, the public is entitled to know how their money is being spent; so, we can’t go on like this without getting the details of the expenditure,” Ugandan MP, Muwanga Kivumbi said. “We require a crystal clear position on who is footing the bill”.

Uganda sent a contingent of its army to South Sudan to fight alongside president Salva Kiir’s forces after war broke out in the world’s youngest nation following political wrangles in December 2013.

Another MP claimed that it was Uganda funding UPDF operations in South Sudan, adding that the latter only provided fuel for their work.

It recently emerged that South Sudan has nearly doubled its military spending since 2010, and now ranks as the region’s biggest spender. The young nation solely relies on oil revenue to fund about 80% of its budget. However, oil output has reduced significantly due to the ongoing conflict in the country and the rapid decline in oil prices.

Last week, a report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) showed a rise in South Sudan’s military spending to $1.08bn last year, from $982m in 2013.

(ST).