By UG Reports
KIRYANDOGO: President Yoweri Museveni over the weekend called for a ban on overseas travel by members of parliament and civil servants to save money for priority areas.
He made the remarks while commissioning facilities at Uganda Petroleum Institute-Kigumba (UPIK) where the country intends to train local experts in oil exploration.
Uganda hopes to start pumping millions of barrels of oil in 2025 from its vast oil reserves, but the president was unimpressed that the training institute was still incomplete due to a lack of funds.
“Tell the civil servants and the MPs [to] stop travelling abroad. Money being wasted in external travel and yet Kigumba is crying for money,” he said, according to a footage by a local outlet.
The president also suggested a freeze on all allowances, according to the Daily Monitor news site.
A $3.5bn (£2.7bn) crude oil pipeline that will connect Uganda’s oil fields to a port in neighbouring Tanzania has been opposed by climate activists.
The two East African countries say their priority is economic development.
Earlier, the Principal of UPIK, Mr Bernard Ongodia, had reported that whereas the World Bank funded them with $15.5m (Shs56.6b), which facilitated the construction of five modern workshops, multipurpose buildings, and a gatehouse, among others.
Mr Ongodia said they need to extend the ICT fibre network to cover the entire institute. He added that with the new infrastructure and equipment in place, there is a need to fence the institute and acquire a police post.
“Your excellency, we believe that if all the above challenges are addressed, our quest to become a global reference institute for oil and gas training will be realised,” Mr Ongodia said.
Mr Museveni said his government is going to find all the funds needed to make UPIK a fully-fledged institute ahead of oil exploration.
“We shall find funds for staff housing, ICT lab, and fence. You said that you are staying outside and the hyenas are coming and we shall hear one day that the hyena has taken one of the students. How shall we explain this? No please. What is the money needed, we shall look for it. Because this is the only project we have in this country,” he said.
One the issue of borehole water, the President said he was going to liaise with the Ministry of Water and Environment to come up with both short and long-term solutions. He also pledged to buy the institute a bus and a min-bus and to give their Sacco Shs50m from the State House budget.
Uganda is expected to begin commercial oil exploration in 2025, with China considered to be one of the major funders among other oil companies.
The Minister of Finance, Mr Matia Kasaija, said the government cannot ban all travels abroad because some 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,”Mr Kasaija said.
“President Museveni did not say we would ban all travels abroad. He said some travels and he asked us to prioritise,” Mr Kasaija said.