Masaka City leaders are struggling to implement projects following the return of unspent funds to the central treasury.
In the last three consecutive financial years, Masaka City council has returned to the consolidated fund close to 32 billion shillings out of the shillings 90 billion conditional funding meant for major infrastructural development works.
The money was part of the budget meant for road construction works implemented under the Uganda Support to Infrastructure Development- USMID program which is funded by the World Bank; to enhance the infrastructure and institutional performance of selected urban local governments.
Geoffrey Bemanyisa, the Masaka City Clerk says that the money was returned to the treasury before it was utilized on the intended project works.
Speaking during an assessment meeting on Wednesday, Bemanyisa noted that the recovery of such a huge sum of money is haunting the City’s infrastructural development aspirations because they cannot give out contracts in the absence of resources.
He is afraid that the two-phased 10-year long program has come to its final implementation stages but the Ministry of Finance is yet to release the money back to the city, which is slowing down the running contracts and as well threatening the implementation of projects that had already been approved.
According to Bamanyisa, the money was recovered while the City was still going through long procurement processes that affected the speed at which they would implement the project works.
Augustine Turibarungi, the Masaka City Principal Engineer indicated that they are already stuck with huge outstanding debts they owe to contractors who had started the construction.
He appealed to the program coordinators both at the Ministries of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, and Local government to support their quest to convince the Secretary to Treasury at the Ministry of Finance to release the money to enable the city complete the planned infrastructural development works.
Paddy Joseph Walter, the Commissioner for Urban Development at the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development says their team has taken note of the concern that will follow it up with higher authorities.
He however tasked the City leadership to team up with all the local stakeholders to come up with a joint formal explanation about the circumstances under which the funds were recovered from them, saying this will reinforce their request to the Ministry of Finance.
Section 17 (2) of the Public Finance Management Act of 2015 requires any local government which fails to spend money appropriated to a particular vote for a given financial year, to return the money to the consolidated fund before the Ministry of Finance can allow it any new releases in the subsequent financial year.
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