Museveni urges overseas travel ban for Uganda MPs

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni speaks in Kyankwanzi district, Uganda December 4, 2021. [Reuters]

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has called for a ban on overseas travel by members of parliament and civil servants.

According to the Monitor news site, Museveni said the ban would help the country save for priority areas such as oil and gas as they are important for the development of Uganda's economy.

Speaking at Uganda Petroleum Institute-Kigumba (UPIK) on Saturday, Museveni also suggested a freeze on all allowances and called on the country's Finance and Planning ministries to focus on institutions such as UPIK where the country intends to train local experts in oil exploration.

The Monitor said Museveni was unimpressed that UPIK was still incomplete due to a lack of funds.

"Tell the civil servants, the MPs and all politicians to stop travelling abroad. Money is wasted on external travel and here Kigumba is crying for money. This is really poor planning," said Museveni, according to the outlet.

He added, "How can you say that you lack $2m per year in order to earn $7b from the oil sector? It is not lack of money, but lack of planning by the Ministry of Planning, foresight and wisdom and all that. How can you fail to plan to save money to get more in a very short time? Allowance inside Uganda, we can freeze all those and do this as we have done previously."

In a rejoinder, however, Uganda's Finance Minister Matia Kasaija dismissed the austerity plan saying some travels are very important for the development of the economy.

"You cannot ban all travel. Some government officials who travel to get money like negotiating for loans need to travel among other important things. President Museveni did not say we would ban all travel abroad. He said some travels and he asked us to prioritise," Kasaija told the Monitor.

According to the news outlet, oil companies plan to invest $15b in Uganda and out of which, 40 per cent will remain in the country.

The World Bank, according to UPIK principal Bernard Ongodia, has "already pumped $15.5m into the institute which facilitated the construction of five modern workshops, multipurpose buildings, and a gatehouse, among others".

The country hopes to start pumping millions of barrels of oil in 2025 and has commissioned a Sh433.9 billion Uganda - Tanzania Crude Oil Pipeline (UTCOP) that will transport oil produced from Lake Albert oilfields to the port of Tanga.