The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development is in trouble over the utilization of 527 billion Shillings meant for the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) following its merger with the ministry.
REA was absorbed by the mother ministry following the rationalization of government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies – MDAs, a move aimed at eliminating structural and functional duplications and overlaps.
It came to the notice of Parliament that during the merger process, REA was authorized to transfer 527 billion Shillings from its accounts to the mother ministry, and the money has since been diverted into other activities following the funding deficit.
Tororo South County Member of Parliament Fredrick Angura said that the ministry did not receive sufficient funding under the Appropriation Bill for the Financial Year 2023/2024 due to the under-absorption of resources meant for REA.
Angura explained that the Appropriation Bill passed by Parliament on 19 May 2023, which contains the amount of money to be spent by each MDA, and local government, before withdrawal authorization from the Consolidated Fund deprived the Ministry of Energy of 100 billion Shillings for electrification.
But State Minister for Energy, Sidronius Okaasai Opolot said the money is being used to implement different donor projects. Okaasai disputed that there was under-absorption of the funds because the money was planned to be used over a period of time spanning three to five years of projects.
Rakai District Woman Representative Juliet Kinyamatama questioned the utilization of the Ministry of Energy over the money meant for rural electrification, noting that there are no new related projects in the constituencies.
Equally, the Butambala District Woman Representative, Aisha Kabanda wondered why the Ministry of Energy has continued to abandon electricity poles to waste in areas where rural electrification projects are being implemented without wire connections.
Speaker of Parliament Anita Among gave the Minister 14 days to present a status report on how the funds are being utilized to enable the House to understand whether it was a good decision for the government to merge REA yet the agency was more effective when it was autonomous.
Asa semi-autonomous body established by an Act of Parliament, REA’s main functions included promoting, stimulating, facilitating, and improving modern energy access for productive uses in rural areas in order to spur rural economic and social development.
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