Parliament Finally Gets Shs1.2Bn Cash to Bury Fallen Speaker Oulanyah

  • by Rodney Mponye
  • April 5, 2022

Organisers of the state funeral for former Speaker Jacob Oulanyah were last night relieved after Parliament confirmed that the long-awaited Shs1.2b for the burial expenses had been credited to its bank account.

“I can now confirm that Finance ministry has released Shs1.2b to Parliamentary Commission for burial arrangements of late Speaker Jacob Oulanyah. The Commission will work with national organising committee to ensure decent send-off,” Parliament spokesperson Chris Obore tweeted at 10:41pm, ending days of agony and lamentation.

He earlier yesterday told this publication that the House was struggling on its own to meet costs of the funeral and burial activities and in some cases had to negotiate services from providers on credit.

The day had its separate share of drama too. For instance, a terse meeting between Members of Parliament representing northern Uganda constituencies and Ministry of Finance officials ended in a walk-out by the lawmakers who at a follow-up press conference accused Permanent Secretary Ramathan Ggoobi of patronising them on the budget that they approved.

Disillusioned, the legislators asked the government to keep its money, and turned to people of good will in Uganda and abroad to muster funds for the burial of Oulanyah, in the northern Omoro District, scheduled for this Friday after tomorrow’s state funeral at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds in Kampala.

The days since the demise in the United States of Oulanyah have been characterised by divisiveness and sharp disputes over money, with parties disagreeing on how much should be spent on the former Speaker’s state funeral, adding to running frustration over the inordinate delay in disbursement of approved budget.

Government officials and parliamentarians spent the most of yesterday speaking at cross purposes over whether the burial of Oulanyah should cost Shs1.2b or Shs1.8b, if Treasury already released the funds and, if so, where the money was.

The national organising committee put in place to accord the former speaker of the 11th Parliament a “decent” send-off, initially budgeted Shs2.5b for the funeral and burial expenses, which have dragged on for a fortnight following delayed repatriation of the remains from the United States where he died.

However, the amount was slashed twice — first to Shs1.8b and again to Shs1.2b — after this publication unearthed the original budget whose expenditure heads included allowances to finance committee members, Shs313 for lawmakers from Acholi, Oulanyah’s birth place, and in excess of Shs120m for fuel.

Whereas Mr Ggoobi affirmed that they on March 30 issued a statutory revision to authorise Parliament to spend an extra Shs1.2b as a “direct charge” on the Consolidated Fund “to cater for the burial of Oulanyah”, Mr Obore said they had not received the cash and the House was struggling to meet the expenses.

The explanation rendered by the PS suggested that Treasury lifted the upper cash limit for Parliament, and allowed it to spend Shs1.2b above its 2021/2022 Financial Year third-quarter disbursement, so that the institution could have at hand an extra cash to meet Oulanyah’s funeral and burial costs without seeking a supplementary budget.