Uganda Road Fund Executive Director Eng. Michael Odongo on Tuesday unloaded irritably on the Ministry of Finance officials led by Hon Matia Kasaija for contriving to hijack the resources collected by the Fund, by deliberately limiting the fund’s control of its own money.
The Uganda Road Fund, which has been in operation since 2010, was created through an Act of Parliament to operate as a 2G (Second Generation) Fund with the objective of financing routine and periodic maintenance of public roads in Uganda from mainly reserved road user charges.
2G Fund implies that the Uganda Road Fund is allowed access and control over the money it collects.
The URF Act of 2008 mandates the Fund to collect money from road user charges, the fuel levy, transit fees, tolls, spot fines, licenses among others; and to deposit this money monthly to its own account.
Within the East African Region, Uganda was the last country to launch a second-generation road fund.
However, the Uganda Revenue Authority Act stipulates that all monies collected by the Road Fund must be deposited to the Consolidated Fund.
While the URA law requires urgent amendment to harmonize it with the URF Act, Eng Odongo says the ministry of Finance has adamantly refused to table these amendments.
“Finance has dragged its feet from amending Section 14 of the URA Act, to make the Road Fund truly a 2nd Generation Fund,” Adongo in Mbarara.
“For 10 years they have dragged their feet, we have sought help from them, from parliament, from cabinet, even the EU but without success.”
Instead of freeing up the Fund, Odongo says the Finance Ministry is instead moving to taking up total control of the fund.
“That is breaking the law. That is not what the road fund was created for,” he said.
“The Minister of Finance needs to respect the laws of this country. If they don’t want the road fund they should go to parliament and table a bill to disband it.”
Due to the limited control of their own funds, Mr Odongo says the URF has hand to endure years of hardship and poor performance.
“Because they tie us to the Consolidated Fund, money doesn’t reach the agencies timely and adequately,” he said.
“As a result, at the end of the year we stampede taking the money back and yet the roads have not been done.”