Members of Parliament have called on Government to provide adequate funding and other necessary support to Uganda’s missions abroad, to ensure their smooth operations.
The MPs were debating a Report on an oversight visit to the Uganda High Commission in London, presented to the House on Thursday, 01 December 2022.
The Chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Hon. Fred Opolot, said that the foreign service allowance paid to officers has hardly been adequate to meet the increasing cost of living. He added that the rates were last revised in 2009.
“The Ministry of Finance should review and consider the priority budget proposals submitted by missions in the 2022/2023 budget, to enable them effectively discharge their mandate,” Opolot said.
The Committee recommended that Government ought to enhance all foreign service allowances.
Speaker Anita Among observed that allowances given to Ambassadors and representatives in foreign missions are insufficient to facilitate their work.
“These people are paid in Uganda Shillings but when they exchange to the currencies of the countries they are in, it comes to insufficient money. What they are paid is often less than the cost of living,” she said.
“If someone is living in Russia and we appropriate money for them and it is not released, how do you expect them to survive? These people need money to operate,” Among added.
The Speaker also observed that many buildings that belong to Uganda in foreign countries are dilapidated, reiterating the need for urgent sufficient funding for necessary rehabilitations to be done.
The Opposition Chief Whip, Hon. John Baptist Nambeshe, noted that the lack of a well documented National Foreign Policy presented an impediment to the National Development Plan (NDP III).
Dokolo district Woman MP, Hon. Cecilia Ogwal, queried the continued funding to the Foreign Affairs Ministry for foreign missions, in the absence of a foreign policy.
“Is it procedurally right for the Foreign Affairs Ministry to continue asking for money for development and recurring budgets, when they do have a policy that shows us where the money is going?” Ogwal asked.
The Minister for General Duties Hon. Justin Kasule Lumumba, told the House that the foreign policy in use, albeit undocumented, is guided by the Constitution.
Hon. Nsaba Buturo (NRM, Bufumbira County East) proposed that Parliament looks into the state of affairs of the country’s missions abroad, so as to ensure good representation.
“The world is changing. If you cannot invest in commercial diplomacy, then your influence in the world will be minimal,” he said.
Hon. Herbert Ariko (NRM, Soroti Munic.) emphasized the need to ensure adequate remuneration for foreign service officers.
“Our foreign service staff still get an allowance of US$4000. The cost of renting an apartment in Moscow costs between US$2500 and US$ 3000. These people have families and should be able to subsist within such economies,” said Ariko.
Speaker Among tasked the Prime Minister to present a foreign policy before the commencement of the budgeting process by the House.
The Report was adopted by Parliament.