Members of Parliament on Wednesday reacted with consternation to a UGX150 billion request by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for reopening the Airport.
According to CAA to cover the recurrent wage bill and sustained operations, port health infrastructure and systems, enhanced security and modification of the terminal building to meet social distancing requirements. Part of the funding is needed to complete and furnish the concession block, and improvement of regional Airport passenger facilitation.
But MPs accused CAA of taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to ask for huge sums of money. A team from CAA appeared before the National Economy Committee of Parliament to among others, discuss the effects of COVID -19 on the aviation industry.
Budiope County MP Geoffrey Dhamuzungu said that his analysis shows that CAA needs only 30 of the UGX150 billion they asked for. He says for instance, the 72 billion Shillings that they are requesting to cover the wage bill cannot arise because they already had this covered in their annual budgets.
He said that the required for 33.5 billion Shillings for security, and 15 billion Shillings for a concession block is not urgent. Dhamuzungu says that the most vital items are the ones related to COVID-19 measures like port health infrastructure and systems and the modification of the terminal to meet social distancing guidelines.
Benard Atiku, the Ayivu MP, said that although CAA has asked for a lot of money, they have not showed how the regional airlines will be equipped.
Jimmy Akena, the Lira Municipality MP said the 150 billion Shillings has been perceived as a way to make money and asked CAA has to clear the air. He says that this could be a huge amount on the tax payers.
Elijah Okupa, the Kasilo County MP asked CAA to categorise which item requires a stimulus, and which one can hold on, but reduce the money. He says the major thing now is categorise the funding they are asking for.
The Deputy Director of CAA Fred Bamwesigye downplayed statements that they are taking advantage of COVID-19 to make unnecessary requests. He says the money they needed is for the development of the airport in relation to COVID-19 regulations.