A colossal sum of money has been set aside for the purchase of an unnamed item by the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces.
The classified asset is billed at Shs 1.9Trillion, about 6% of the 2019/2020 national budget of 34.3tn.
The Shs 1.94Trillion, ChimpReports understands, is separate from the customary classified expenditure of Shs 225bn also planned for in the same financial year.
The new development is contained in the Ministerial Policy Statement (2019/2020 budget) of Defense and Veteran Affairs ministry.
The annual classified expenditure for the last four financial years since 2015/2016 has been maintained at around Shs 600bn. The 2018/2019 classified expenditure was Shs 640bn.
The planned 2019/2020 total classified expenditure will be Shs 2.2bn, higher than the whole 2018/2019 defense budget of Shs 1.97tn. The 2019/2020 total defense budget stands at Shs 3.4tn, an increment of 58 percent.
The top UPDF generals, Ministers of Defense and Veteran Affairs and Permanent Secretary Rosette Byengoma did not divulge to Members of Parliament any detail about the classified asset during meetings by the Committee on Defense and Internal Affairs sitting at Parliament.
It shall be remembered however, that in mid-2014, the Defense Ministry entered negotiations with a Russian bank through the Russian state owned arms export company, Rosboronexport to acquire a USD$ 170m loan to support the acquisition of some classified equipment.
In 2012 Uganda bought 6 fighter jets from the same Russian state arms export company at Shs 654bn. The government had taken a total of Shs 1.7tn from Bank of Uganda to also buy other military assets from Eastern European countries.
The current Shs 1.94tn (USD$ 524m) can buy 14 multirole Sukhoi Su-30 Russian fighter jets, which are among the most popular in Africa, at the current USD$ 37.5m each. Uganda already has Sukhoi fighter jets in her air force fleet.
The same amount can also buy 112 advanced T-90 third generation Russian made battle tanks. Uganda already own 44 T-90 tanks also known as Vildamirs and the Africa’s biggest defense spender, Algeria (USD$ 10bn) has 572 similar fighter tanks.
Uganda’s Defense spending has also immensely increased from USD$ 500m to USD$ 921m. The defense budget is however projected to reduce to Shs 2.4tn or USD$ 640m in the next financial year of 2020/2021.
When contacted on phone the Ministry of Defense and UPDF Spokesman, Brig. Richard Kaaremire confirmed and defended the budget.
“We need that amount (Shs 1.9tn) to deliver on our mandate as the UPDF,” Karemire briefly said.
The UPDF has four main mandates: to defend and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Uganda, cooperate with civilian authorities in emergency situations and natural disasters, foster harmony and understanding between defense forces and civilians and engage in productive activities for national development.
The Shs 1.9tn for a single classified vote is 48 times bigger than the total 2019/2020 budget of Ministry of ICT and National Guidance’s Shs 40bn.