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New Cities Budget Allocation Deferred over Legal Requirements

Parliament on Thursday postponed the budget reallocation to operationalise the new cities over failure by Finance Ministry to meet legal requirements.

The State Minister of Finance in charge of Planning, David Bahati tabled a motion on the floor of Parliament to reallocate funds given to 10 municipalities before they were upgraded to city statuses.

Parliament on April 28, 2020, approved the creation of 15 cities, 10 of which commenced on July 1 including; Arua, Gulu, Jinja, Mbarara, Fort Portal, Masaka, Mbale, Soroti, Lira and Hoima cities. The other cities are; Entebbe, Moroto, Nakasongola, Kabale and Wakiso.

Bahati told the House that the annual budget for 2020/2021 was passed before the commencement of these cities, and therefore, funds for functioning of the new districts were allocated to the original municipalities.

In the proposed reallocation; Arua is meant to get Shs 26Bn, Jinja City Shs 35Bn, Fort Portal Shs 21.694Bn, Mbale City 42.6 bn. The votes for Masaka, Mbarara, Lira and Gulu cites were yet to be read when the Dokolo South MP, Felix Okot Ogong raised a point of procedure.

Okot questioned the legality of the reallocation arguing that Parliament had just created those cities and Government is yet to table law for their operationalization.

The Shadow (Opposition) Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba queried if the Government dissolved the existing municipalities that were created under Local Government Act after the creation of cities.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who steered the House, said she had earlier communicated to the Minister of Local Government, Raphael Magyezi on the need to bring Acts of the created cities, because the constitution currently only recognizes Kampala City.

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Finance had based on the Public Finance Management Act which says Parliament may, by resolution, authorize the Minister to reallocate funds from a vote to another vote where the functions of a vote are transferred to that other vote.

The Speaker, however, guided that the government had not created votes for the new cities and the move would require amending the Appropriation Act (recently passed 2020/2021 budget).

Finance is now expected to work on the legal requirements before returning to Parliament.

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