MPs: Remittance of environmental levy to Consolidated Fund unconstitutional

The Members of Parliament questioned why the environmental levy is remitted to the Consolidated Fund and yet the law indicates that such money should be retained by the entity (PHOTO /Courtesy)

The National Management Authority (NEMA) and Ministry of Water and Environment have asked Parliament to prevail over the remittance of environmental levy to the Consolidated Fund.

The team made the statements on Monday, 17 January 2022 as the Minister of State for Water and Environment, Hon Aisha Sekkindi and the team from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) appeared before the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources to discuss their Budget Framework Paper for the financial year 2022/23.

Hon Paul Akamba, the Busiki County MP questioned why the environmental levy is remitted to the Consolidated Fund and yet the law indicates that such money should be retained by the entity.

The environment levy is charged on various items like old cars and machines as a means to prohibit the pollution and destruction of the environment. In the financial year 2020/2021, Shs262 billion was collected in environmental levy and non-tax revenue averaging Shs14 billion. Several MPs, Ministry of Works and NEMA official expressed concern over the continued remittance of the money to the Consolidated Fund yet it is supposed to help in the fight against the destruction of the environment.

Sheema Municipality MP, Hon Dickson Kateshumbwa, quoting the Environmental Act said that NEMA should retain the revenue.

“We have revenue collected by URA, and that which NEMA collects but all this goes to the Consolidated Fund. You are all part of Government and you cannot have Ministry of Finance disregard part of the law on levy by administratively moving it to the Consolidated Fund yet it is supposed to be retained,” he said.

He said the levy was meant to strengthen the environmental response by Government, but that purpose is not currently being met, including issues to do with emissions and enforcement among others.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy, Alfred Okot Okidi says the money does not adequately return to them because the same money is meant to fund environmental activities in the districts.

Tororo County MP, Hon Fredrick Angura said that the levy was set with a view of environmental management but this has turned out to be one revenue source for the Consolidated Fund.

“This is part of the money which is appropriated to all the entities; the law is very good, very strong but how to operationalise, is the challenge. What we negotiated in the last Parliament, is can we get a percentage, because all this money is going to the Consolidated Fund,” he said.

Dr. Emmanuel Otala, the committee Chairperson said that they will engage the Ministry of Finance to ensure that this matter is resolved.

“We now know the entity to put to task, because this is in total disregard of the law; it is a breach of the constitution,” he said.

The Executive Director of the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), Dr. Akankwasa Barirega told the committee that sending the funds to the Consolidated Fund is a breach of the law as the constitution requires that money due to a special fund established by Parliament shall not constitute part of the Consolidated Fund.

He says it is sad that an administrative decision has been taken to do away with what is in the constitution.

“The Ministry of Finance has no single excuse to argue that NEMA should remit money to the Consolidated Fund. Ministry of Finance Administratively decided to take away the National Environment Fund; so from 2019, it is not an operation, it goes straight to the Consolidated Fund,” he said.

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