Uganda’s representatives in international organisations have been denied participation due to failure to pay subscriptions.
According to the Chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Hon. Norah Bigirwa, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is supposed to pay annual subscriptions to international organisations amounting to Shs32.36 billion but was only allocated Shs6.36 billion for the Financial Year 2023/2024.
She added that the funding gap for this purpose of Shs26 billion, if not catered for, would taint Uganda’s image on the international scene.
“It is very diplomatically embarrassing if we fail to subscribe as a nation to these international organisations. Many of our officials have been chased away from meetings and are not even allowed to vote due to failure to pay these subscriptions,” said Bigirwa.
Bigirwa revealed this while presenting a report on the proposed budgets for the sector.
Bigirwa said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs accrued arrears of Shs37.06 billion from non-payment of funds to different international organisations with only Shs2.49 billion provided in the current financial year.
“The balance in arrears is Shs34.56 billion but there is zero allocated to cater for the arrears. This committee has severally recommended the upward revision of the current position of government in respect to funding but with little response,” she noted.
Hon. Eric Musana (Indep., Buyaga East County) cited Uganda’s election to the Peace and Security Council of the African Union where the President directed a provision of Shs1 billion to facilitate activities which remain pending.
“We are talking about building the image of Uganda but how shall we do it without paying some of these statutory obligations that make Uganda a serious country? There are treaties and protocols that we must honour,” Musana said.
Hon. Abdulhu Byakatonda (Indep., Workers Representative) said Uganda’s embassies abroad require affirmative action in terms of funding.
“We need to have attachés in countries like Saudi Arabia so that our labour can be properly regulated. Labour export alone contributes US$12 million to the economy which can help it to grow,” Byakatonda added.
Hon. Cecilia Ogwal (FDC, Dokolo District) called for adequate facilitation for the missions abroad to develop their acquired estates abroad.
She cited the availability of land in Addis Ababa, Washington and London.
“Embassies are spending a lot of money in renting yet they have land which was acquired many years ago. We need to develop a strategy to give the ministry money to build sanctuaries in these areas,” Ogwal said.
The State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. John Mulimba attributed the ministry’s underperformance in promoting a commercial and economic policy to non-releases of funds to the sector.
He said Uganda has among others, secured a market with a tax-free quota for powdered milk in Algeria worth US$500 million yet Uganda’s production capacity is only at US$100 million.
“We are doing well in marketing the country and we call on the support of the House to get to our desired end,” Mulimba added.