PARLIAMENT: The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has been tasked to present a report on the utilisation of resources meant for the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) following its integration into the ministry.
The absorption of the agency by the ministry is premised on the rationalisation of government departments and agencies.
Speaker Anita Among, gave the directive on Thursday, 22 June 2023.
“We want to understand whether it was a good decision for government to take REA because this agency used to be more effective when it was on its own,” Among said.
The directive follows concerns raised by Tororo South County MP, Hon. Fredrick Angura who said that the ministry did not receive sufficient funding under the Appropriation Bill for financial year 2023/2024 due to under absorption of resources meant for REA.
“When we passed the Appropriation Bill on 19 May 2023, the Ministry of Energy was deprived of Shs100 billion for electrification. The reason advanced was that during rationalisation of REA, Parliament authorised transfer of funds totalling to Shs500 billion,” Angura said.
The State Minister for Energy, Hon. Sidronius Okaasai said the money is being used to implement donor projects and that he will present a report within two weeks, on how the money has been spent.
“The Shs500 billion was not money for one financial year but is being implemented according to work plans approved by Parliament when approving support from development partners,” he said.
Okaasai added that it is not correct that there was under absorption of the funds because the money was planned to be used over a period of time under the agency, with some projects running for three to five years.
However, the Deputy Chairperson of the Budget Committee, Hon. Ignatius Mudimi, clarified that the money transferred to the Energy Ministry after collapsing the REA vote was Shs527 billion and was meant for one financial year and not an entire project period.
Asked by the Speaker about the fate of underutilised resources, Mudimi said such resources are often reallocated to other priority areas in the budget.
“Absorption is seen with physical progress but we have not seen the REA projects, which means the money was not absorbed. When there is no absorption, we look for such idle resources and utilise them for other activities,” Mudimi said.
Hon. Juliet Kinyamatama (Indep., Rakai District Woman Representative) questioned the utilisation of the money meant for electrification, saying that there are no new related projects in the constituencies.
Butambala District Woman Representative, Hon. Aisha Kabanda asked the minister to address the matter of electricity poles erected without wire connections in his report.