KAMPALA: The Uganda Road Fund and Tree Fund will roll out in the Financial Year 2022/2023, the finance minister, Hon. Matia Kasaija has revealed.
The funds have been pending owing to concerns that they contravened Article 153 of the Constitution that created the Consolidated Fund where revenues or other monies raised or received for the purpose of, or on behalf of, or in trust for the Government, are paid.
Guidance by the Attorney General on the funds, focused on 153 (2) of the Constitution that reads, “The revenues or other monies referred to in clause (1) of this article shall not include revenues or other monies that are payable by or under an Act of Parliament, into some other fund established for a specific purpose.”
The Attorney General added that interpretation of Section 30 of the Public Finance Management Act ought to be considered along the made with the provisions of Article 153 (2) of the Constitution.
“It is our opinion that the law allows for creation of other funds aside from the Consolidated Fund. The other funds have to be creatures of Acts of Parliament for purposes as may be specified in the provisions of those Acts of Parliament,” reads the Attorney General’s statement.
The statement was read to the House by Kasaija on Thursday, 12 May 2022 in session chaired by Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa.
The Uganda Road Fund was established by an Act of Parliament in 2008 to operate as a second generation fund aimed at financing routine and periodic maintenance of public roads in the country from mainly reserved road user charges.
The Tree Fund was established by the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act, 2003 to promote tree planting and growing at national and local levels.
Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga, urged the prioritisation of the funds to ensure they are operationalised, given that they are constitutional and fall under particular Acts of Parliament.
The Deputy Speaker said there is need to amend the Public Finance Management Act, 2015 and put it in line with the Constitution basing on the opinion of the Attorney General.
“What we need is money. What we need to do as a House is to ensure that we put money in the coming budget for the Road Fund,” said Tayebwa.
Hon. Nathan Byanyima (NRM, Bukanga North County) raised concerns that government had focused more on tarmacking many kilometres of road but was not matching them with maintenance.
“Construction of roads in Uganda is at 87 per cent but maintenance is 18 per cent. Kenya road construction is at 18 per cent but maintenance is 82 per cent. The more you continue tarmacking roads, the more it becomes for maintenance if you do not maintain them,” Byanyima noted.
Hon. Sarah Opendi (NRM, Tororo District Woman MP) said the finance ministry has been adamant in having regulations to operationalise the Road Fund, noting that road maintenance would go a long way in protecting Uganda’s road asset.
“My prayer is that the Minister for Finance should operationalise the Road Fund in accordance with section 49 of the Act by the end of the Financial Year 2021/2022 and ensure funds collected by Uganda Revenue Authority as road user charges are remitted directly to the fund as per Section 21(3) of the Act,” said Opendi.
Hon. Santa Alum (UPC, Oyam District Woman MP) raised concerns over undisbursed monies for counties and sub counties for the purpose of road maintenance and tasked the finance minister to give a way forward.
“In my district, there are sub counties that did not receive money for the third and fourth quarter. Now most of our equipment is grounded yet we have many impassable roads. What is going to happen between now and the next financial year?” she asked.
Kasaija told Parliament that he will present a statement in a week detailing how the Road Fund will be operationalised.
Hon. Jane Pacuto (NRM, Pakwach District Woman MP) moved a motion urging government to operationalise the Tree Fund so as to facilitate issuance of directions for planting and growing of trees in accordance with section 39 of the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act, 2003.
“Forests and trees are experiencing more pressure than ever as demand for food, human settlement, wood and fuel grows, yet efforts have not been made to secure sustainability of forest and trees through programmes that facilitate continuous tree planting and growing,” she said.