Government moves motion to withdraw Shs166 bn from petroleum fund

The finance minister, Matia Kasaija on Wednesday tabled a motion requesting Parliament to allow the government withdraw Shs116.6 billion from the Petroleum Fund. The money is needed for road construction to ensure that the first oil is produced by 2020, the minister said.

“These roads [to the oil fields] must be in place by 2019,” Kasaija said. The minister also asked parliament to approve an equivalent amount from the supplementary budget to the Uganda National Roads Authority.

The Petroleum Fund is part of the Consolidated Fund for the Government managed by the Bank of Uganda, and was established by the Public Finance Management Act 2015 to receive all petroleum revenue. According to the Bank of Uganda 2015/16 Annual Report, the account has a balance of Shs129 billion (as at July 2016).

The house however denied the minister’s request. The speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, said the motion had been brought “prematurely” before the house. She asked the minister to “please go back and file the necessary papers namely the Appropriation Bill on this issue before we can proceed.”

The Fund is managed by the finance ministry and all withdrawals can only be made under authority granted by an Appropriations Act and a warrant of the Auditor General.

This is the first time the government is seeking to access money from the petroleum fund.