Kasaija assures on economy as CJ pushes for more Judiciary funding
Finance minister Matia Kasaija assures that Uganda's economic growth is expected to rebound to 4.2% in the current finan ...
NATIONAL BUDGET CONFERENCE FOR 2022/23
The finance ministry hosted the National Budget Conference at Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala on Thursday, setting into motion multi-sectoral discussions around the budget of the 2022/23 financial year.
The meeting was attended by representatives of key stakeholders, including politicians, local development partners, civil society, academia, business community, special interest groups and the youth. It provided a pedestal for a discussion on key growth constraints, a reflection of the economic situation, necessary budget financing, among other matters.
Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja opened and chaired the meeting while Vice-President Jessica Alupo represented President Yoweri Museveni at the well-attended event conducted under strict observance of standard operating procedures (SOPs) amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Finance minister Matia Kasaija told the conference that the 2022/23 budget plans to prioritise the restoration of business activity, after an economic slow-down due to the pandemic, by increasing access to capital.
Also key will be industrialization focusing on agro-industry and light manufacturing as well as improving productive infrastructure.
The budget will also place high the well-being of Ugandans through improved health and education.
Government is also looking to improving public sector effectiveness and efficiency.
In his delivery, Kasaija assured textile traders that the import tax rate has been eased and therefore, they needn't strike. But he was keen emphasise the imprtance of tax compliance, rallying Ugandans to embrace payment of tax as a noble duty and not as a punishment.
Meanwhile, local development partners pushed for more government expenditure on human capital development, social protection, agricultural sector, the road network and local governments to improve service delivery.
On the eve of the conference, finance ministry's hierarchy convened with other stakeholders to scrutinize the budget strategy for the 2022/23 financial year.
For swift economic recovery after a difficult one-and-a-half years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2022/23 budget strategy is focusing on such short-term strategies as widespread vaccination and boosting aggregate demand and credit relief.
Vice-President Jessica Alupo represented President Yoweri Museveni
Prime Minister Nabbanja announced that Uganda has planned to have 4.8 million people vaccinated by October and 11 million by December. By her own admission, she said that by next year, the entire population of Uganda would have been inoculated.
As of Thursday afternoon, Uganda has 143 new COVID-19 cases confirmed, from tests conducted on Tuesday, September 7. Uganda's cumulative confirmed cases are 120,990, of whom 3,074 have succumbed to the virus.
The health ministry says a total of 1,476,526 vaccine doses have so far been administered.
Uganda's vaccination drive was boosted with Monday's arrival of a donation of 647,080 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from the US government under the dose sharing arrangement through the COVAX facility.
Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja says more COVID-19 vaccines are expected
Meanwhile, industrialization and increasing productivity in agriculture are also part of the medium and long-term strategies.
One of the assurances from minister Kasaija is that Uganda's economic growth is expected to rebound to 4.2% in the current fiscal year, to 6% in the next and to at least 7% in the medium term.
He also listed some of the opportunities for growth in the short to medium term as:
- Acceleration of import substitution
- Digitization of socio-economic activities to improve efficiency
- Foreign direct inflows for infrastructure developments
- Improved access to export markets
Meanwhile, Kasaija talked of how the supplementary budget "is making our life very difficult at finance", and called for strict adherance to the budget.
CJ makes case for more funding to Judiciary
In his delivery on the role of the Judiciary in national development, Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo made a case for a "robust and functional" Judiciary through increased budgetary funding.
"We need a paradigm shift," he urged.
Reflecting on the years past, Owiny-Dollo said the Judiciary "has not been given its rightful place to be able to serve the people of this country" and therefore there is "a need for a paradigm shift in the manner we handle the Judiciary".
Owiny-Dollo, who deputized and later succeeded Bart Katureebe as Chief Justice in June 2020, admitted he does not have enough judges to dispose of cases.
He said there are 6,094 cases unresolved at the Commercial Division of the High Court in Kampala - but with only six judges to handle them. He revealed that these unresolved cases are worth sh4.5 trillion, money that would have been already released into the economy had the cases been resolved.
The 65-year-old top judge asked to be given at least 10 more judges to help expedite the clearing of the huge case backlog.
"The biggest role of the Judiciary is the socio-economic tranformation of the country - yet this is where the Judiciary is being failed in its role," he said.
"The Judiciary operates at 37% human resouce capacity and becuase of this, there are a number of places in this country where the nearest functional court (Grade One Magistrate) is like the distance between Kampala and Jinja."
If more budgetary funds are channeled to the Judiciary, Owiny-Dollo projects that there will be at least a Chief Magistrate in every district of Uganda and a Grade One Magistrate in every sub-county.
Part of the Judiciary's plan is to locate appellate courts around the country.
For a start, they want to locate one on either side of the equator - one in Mbarara (southern hemisphere) and the other in Gulu (northern hemisphere). That way, the Kampala appellate court services would be for the central and eastern regions.
In the long term, more of such courts will be in Mbale, Jinja, Mubende, Masaka, Fort Portal, etc "so that we truly afford our people access to justice".
Pictures from Kololo, starting with arrivals and interactions before the conference got under way . . .
The conference paused briefly for a tea break . . .