The UPDF Classified expenditure has increased by 656% from Shs 344bn in Financial Year (FY) 2014/2015 to Shs 2.6tn in FY 2019/2020 compared to the country’s GDP average increase of 5.4% in the same period.
Thanks to last Tuesday’s COVID-19 supplementary budget stampede at Parliament, a separate total of Shs 638.2bn supplementary was passed by Parliament strangely without debate.
Shs 458bn is for the Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs.
In the Shs 458bn given to Defense, Shs 400bn (vote 004) is for the procurement of Classified Defense Equipment, just two months to the end of the financial Year 2019/2020.
Defense (UPDF) asked for Shs 2.2tn for classified expenditure in this Financial Year with Shs 1.9tn going to procure classified defense equipment.
The money for the item has now increased by Shs 400bn to Shs 2.3tn.
The classified expenditure of Shs 2.6tn is now bigger than the combined annual budget of six ministries including ICT, Tourism, Gender, Trade and Industry, Science and Technology and Lands.
The single vote is also now bigger than the individual budgets of Health (Shs 2.5tn), Agriculture (Shs 1.0tn), Parliament (561bn) and others.
The Shs 2.6tn classified expenditure of 2019/2020, bigger than the total 2018/2019 Defense budget of Shs 1.97tn has now pushed the sector’s budget to Shs 3.8tn, representing an annual increment of 93%.
In April last year the top UPDF generals, Ministers of Defense and Veteran Affairs and Permanent Secretary Rosette Byengoma did not divulge to Members of Parliament any single detail about the classified asset during a number of committee on Defense and Internal Affairs sittings at Parliament.
In mid-2014 Defense Ministry entered negotiations with a Russian bank through the Russian state owned arms export company, Rosboronexport to get of USD$ 170m to support the acquisition of some of the above classified equipment.
In 2012 Uganda bought 6 fighter jets from the same Russian state arms export company at Shs 654bn. The government had taken a total of Shs 1.7tn from Bank of Uganda to also buy other military assets from Eastern European countries.
The classified defense equipment budget of Shs 2.3tn (USD$ 524m) can buy 16 multirole Sukhoi Su-30 Russian fighter jets, which are among the most popular in Africa, at the current USD$ 37.5m each. Uganda already has Sukhoi fighter jets in the air force fleet.
The same amount can also buy 129 advanced T-90 third generation Russian made battle tanks. Uganda by 2019 had 44 T-90 tanks also known as Vildamir. The Africa’s biggest defense spender, Algeria (USD$ 10bn annually) has 572 similar fighter tanks.
Uganda’s Defense spending has now immensely increased from USD$ 500m to USD$ 1bn. The defense budget in April 2019 was projected to reduce to Shs 2.4tn or USD$ 640m in the next financial year of 2020/221.
The Ministry of Defense and UPDF Spokesman, Brig. Richard Karemire told the media in April 2019 that UPDF needs enough funds to deliver on its constitutional mandate.
“We need it to deliver on our mandate as the UPDF,” Karemire said.
The UPDF has four main mandates: to defend and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Uganda, cooperate with civilian authorities in emergency situations and natural disasters, foster harmony and understanding between defense forces and civilians and engage in productive activities for national development.