In the last few weeks we have been inundated with reports of public officials caught with their hands in the till.
The two notable ones are the missing monies in the prime minister’s office and the public service ministry, which between them have seen about sh200b unaccounted for – a euphemism for stolen.
A billion shillings is a thousand million shillings. But in a country where the per capita GDP is slightly above a million shillings, the majority of us can’t wrap our minds around a sh10m leave alone a billion.
The appropriation of billions of shillings in tax payers money to enrich a handful of bureaucrats is made more nauseating when it means that thousands, no, millions of Ugandans will be deprived of life saving drugs, their potential stunted for lack of education or their business opportunities frustrated for lack of power and roads.
This year’s national budget stands at about sh9.1trillion.
The sh200b gone missing in these two ministries alone would more than cover the budgets of the lands, ICT, toursim, trade and social development ministries combined.
This money accounts for more than sh167b budgeted for parliament.
But that is on the macro-level. When you break it down further to what these sums can do for the everyday man it gets even more shocking.
The government has budgeted just under sh50b to treat the three million-odd patients – in and outpatients, who will visit its 15 referral hospitals around the nation. With the sums tucked way by the handful officials in the prime minister’s office and public service ministry we can treat the said patients for four years.
In addition the government had set aside sh600m for the recruitment of 1000 health workers. Also one billion shillings was budgeted for the DPT immunization of 1.3 million infants countrywide, so the said money stolen would have covered the immunisation needs for this country for the next two centuries.
A hundred billion shillings in ACTs & ARVs were budgeted for this year.
And the story goes on.
The government budgeted for 22 primary schools and the rehabilitation and construction of 67 classrooms for a total of sh20b.
And for all those with rural roads in need of repair the government has earmarked sh181b for routine and periodical maintenance of 32,000 km of road.
Put in their proper perspective the billions of shillings finding their way into the pockets of public officials have a much higher cost to them than the nominal figures that are reported in the press.