Uganda has defaulted on membership fees for the regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), under which it plays key role in regional security.
According to sources, the arrears have accumulated to $8 million (Shs24 billion) and government officials risk being blocked from attending Igad meetings.
“One of those countries defaulting worst is the Republic of Uganda owing Igad more than $8 million in arrears,” the source said.
State minister for Foreign Affairs Henry Okello Oryem confirmed government has accumulated arrears because there is no money.
“It’s very unfortunate that we have those arrears. But we are willing to pay. We hope the Ministry of Finance will release the money to clear the arrears,” the minister said.
Other countries that have defaulted are Sudan with $2 million (about Shs7 billion), South Sudan with $1.5 million (about Shs5.3 billion), Kenya with $1 million (about Shs3.5 billion) and Ethiopia with $1.7 million (about Shs6 billion).
In 2012, President Museveni directed former Minister of Finance Maria Kiwanuka to clear the bill that was then $5.8 million but no payment was made.
“It is with shame that Uganda being at the forefront of regional security in Somalia, South Sudan, Burundi and other regional matters is not keen and diligent to honour their responsibility to pay their contribution to Igad of $1.5 million annually,” the source said.
The contributions by member states help Igad to roll out its programmes in agriculture, natural resources and environment, economic cooperation and social development, peace, security and humanitarian affairs
If Uganda does not pay, Igad could close its programmes in Uganda that include 10 project health units at border points at Malaba, Busia, Rwamwanja, Kyaka, Kyangwali, Bibia, and Oraba.
The regional bloc also provides conflict early warning information and livelihood support systems to the Karamoja sub-region.