Gulu City Councilors petition President Museveni over delayed remittance of local revenue

GULU – Councilors of Gulu City Council and the two divisional councils of Bar Dege-Layibi and Pece Laroo have petitioned President Yoweri Museveni over the delay by the Central Government to remit local revenues.

For eight months, Gulu City has been operating without operational funds and local revenue remitted by the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development.

So far, the City has collected a total of Shs1.8 billion as local revenue, which has been remitted to the consolidated funds with Bank of Uganda.

Last year, the city council requested a supplementary budget of Shs 3.8 billion, which is yet to be presented on the floor of parliament.

In this financial year ending June, Parliament approved a budget of only Shs 490 million for Gulu City.

Lamex Lambert Akena, a City councilor says, on several occasions, the Gulu City leadership including Members of Parliament have raised the matter on the floor of parliament, held several meetings with ministers for the matter to be resolved in vain.

Akena says, the decision of the councilors and division leaders to petition President Museveni is to present to him how the city is struggling to operate without funds. The city leadership have vowed to camp in front of State House Entebbe should they be blocked from meeting the head of state.

The new financial management system, the Integrated Revenue Administrative System (IRAS) tasks Local Government to remit all their local revenue collections to the consolidated fund with Bank of Uganda before it is disbursed to the Local Government upon approval of their activities and budgets.

According to Akena, they requested for a supplementary budget from what they have collected themselves as the city but the ministry has kept quiet.

Robert Komakech, the Speaker of Bar-dege Layibi division says, as a result of the delayed remittance of local revenue by the Central Government, services like garbage collection, payment of utilities like water and electricity, opening and rehabilitation of community roads among others have been greatly affected.

Morris Odong, the Layibi South Division City Councilor wonders why the central government has in the recent past transferred town clerks so frequently. This he says, also affected the following up of the local revenue among other services that the Central Government should provide to the local governments.

Patrick Oola Lumumba, the Bar dege Layibi Division Mayor says, they are considering organizing a joint council meeting to resolve abandoning the use of the Integrated Revenue Administrative System (IRAS) saying, it has negatively impacted on the administration of the city and the division.

Lumumba says, as leaders who receive emoluments instead of salaries, they have not been paid for the last seven months and are currently struggling financially.

Lumumba further said, they want to revert to the older financial management system where local revenue is spent at source saying, it will ease and improve service delivery to the community members.

Florence Lalam, the Female Councilor for Laroo Pece, accused the Central Government officials of literally stealing their money which is meant to provide services to the locals from whom the money is collected.

Jim Mugunga, the Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development wondered whether the authorities followed all the required procedures to apply for the funds and were not remitted.

In a recent interview, Alfred Okwonga, the Gulu City Mayor said, they had followed all the procedures of requesting for the funds from the Ministry of Finance of which the ministry had asked until the end of February for the anomalies to be sorted.

Mugunga says, currently the government is cashless and that could be the reason for the delay in remittance of the funds to the city.

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