MPs on the Internal and Defence Committee want immigration officers posted around borders across the country to stop using lodges, arguing that the nocturnal activities in the lodges is affecting service delivery.
The details are contained in the report by the Parliament Committee of Defence and Internal Affairs on the Ministerial policy statement and budget estimates 2018/2019 of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The Committee highlighted the appalling accommodation facilities of the immigration officers deployed at Uganda Borders who were found without decent accommodation.
The Committee expressed concern over the fact that whereas the National Citizenship and Immigration Control Directorate has increased its annual Non-Tax Revenue collections to Shs 160 billion, its staff are accommodated in pathetic conditions.
“Staff are accommodated in lodges that are very expensive and the nocturnal activities of other occupants therein make lodges unsuitable for staff residence,” as highlighted in the report.
Following the findings, the Committee wants the Directorate of Immigration and Citizens Control to design a project for the construction of accommodation for all Immigration staff at all gazetted borders, with specific caution given to Government to allocate funds from the Non-Tax Revenue generated by the institution annually till completion of the project.
Non-Tax Revenue performance for the half year overshot target by l7% with notable performance recorded in work permit fees, visa fees (with implementation of e-payment system), as well as passport fees.
Of the projected Shs 80 billion that was meant to be collected in the Half Year, Shs 93.45 billion total revenue was generated from issuance of immigration facilities.
The MPs were also angered by Government’s reluctance to fund the implementation of the transition from paper passport to the Electronic Passport, as had been agreed by the East African Community members.
It should be recalled that the Heads of EAC Partner States launched the New Electronic passports during Ordinary the 17th ordinary summit meeting and directed Partner States to commence the issuance of e-passports by January 2017, and one year down the road, the project hasn’t kicked off.
The Committee wants Government to speed up the process arguing that the implementation of e-passport will save government annual expenditure on purchase of empty passport booklets and associated wear and tear of printing machines deployed internally and externally.
According to the Directorate, the Initial activities for the establishment of the E-passport infrastructure requires Shs28 billion while full implementation requires USD 100 million, but despite the adoption of the decision one year back, the implementation of E-Passport has remained unfunded in FY2018/2019.
During the meeting, Parliament was told that Government is considering negotiating a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement as an alternative to outright financing, however this has taken a long time yet the legal framework on PPP is in place.
Now, the Committee wants the Ministry of Finance to provide Shs 28 billion as start-up funds to kick-start activities leading to the issuance of E-Passports in FY2018/2019, with the other option for Government to fast-track the option of a PPP arrangement to ensure adequate funding to implement the resolution of the EAC Heads of State.
In the 2018/2019 budget, the Directorate’s funding is projected to increase by Shs 16.94 Bn from approved Shs 43.8 billion to the proposed Shs 60.815 billion, although the budget for arrears is expected to remain constant at Shs 1.046 billion with a significant increase of Shs 14.l32 billion and Shs 7.88 billion recorded under the Development Budget and AiA respectively.