By Francis Emorut
The Accountant General, Lawrence Semakula has cautioned civil society organizations against criticizing government without offering alternative measures.
Ssemakula was addressing participants during a meeting with members of Civil Society Advocacy Budget Group (CSBAG) and officials of the accountability sector.
“You should not only criticise government but offer constructive proposals or alternatives on how to improve budget credibility, execution and give feedback to inform policy and decision makers,” he said.
The meeting took place at the conference hall of the ministry of foreign affairs in Kampala.
Ssemakula asked the civil society group to give feedback on corruption tendencies so that government can take action.
“Civil society organizations have central roles to play in establishing better accountability and in addressing corruption in the community: they can provide direct links with the users and beneficiaries of government programmes and monitoring public expenditure and can also advocate and give feedback on the effectiveness of accountability systems for action,” Ssemakula said.
He stressed the need to strengthen working relations between the accountability sector and the civil society group in demanding accountability from service providers.
The meeting was called to ensure that the input of citizens about budget process is included as consultations on the national budget framework paper are on-going.
The Accountant General welcomed the initiative of CSBAG and said public engagement is important in budget process to ensure transparency and promoting social accountability.
“Accountability sector working group recognises the importance of public engagement in budgeting, strengthens transparency and openness of public budgets and helps to promote social accountability that enables citizens to become more engaged and in the process learn more about the budget and fiscal policy concerns,” he said.
Julius Mukunda the coordinator of CSBAG assured the accountant general that the budget advocacy group acts as a watch dog on how government’s money is spent in providing service delivery to the citizenry.
Mukunda informed the officials in the accountant general office that civil society group has budget track mechanism up to the grassroots level and therefore, can monitor and evaluate government programmes.
He said the grassroots approach to budget monitoring and service delivery tracking is achieved through the village budget clubs and village parliaments.
He also pointed out that the group engages Parliament and ministry of finance in a bid to influence budget decisions in Uganda through provision of alternative budget proposals on an annual basis.
Godfrey Ssemugooma the commissioner in AG office said they are committed in prevention, detection and elimination of corruption as far as government programmes are concerned.