Budget - Participants from civil society groups, academia, and ordinary Ugandans from various parts of the country have called for a more people centered national budget.
The call was made during a conference on the 2019/2020 national budget which was organized by the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) at Hotel Africana.
Patricia Munaaba from FOWEDE expressed concern about sectors that serve majority Ugandans, like health, education, and agriculture, being allocated underfunded in the national budget.
Munaaba said it was FOWEDE that sponsored Isaac Musumba to draft and have the Budget Act passed; which she said has greatly promoted transparency in the allocation of resources in the national budget.
Munaaba argued that whereas there is transparency in the budgeting process, government needs to put more resources which can improve the lives of Ugandans.
Ali Kaviri, the team leader of Youth Equality Centre expressed disappointment that government has not done enough to undertake more practical measures for addressing the high rate of unemployment and poverty among the youth.
“The Youth Livelihood project is only benefiting a few youth who are politically connected. There is even a proposal to have State House takeover the funds, and that worries us because it will make the project more political,” Kaviri stated.
Alfred Mutebi, an ordinary citizen from Lyantonde blamed the ministers and MPs for budgeting for themselves to get exorbitant salaries and forget about majority of civil servants who are paid meager salaries.
The head of Budget Monitoring and Evaluation from the ministry of finance urged the civil society, legislators, and citizens to be more vigilant to ensure that government officials don’t inflate costs for government projects.
“Government officials in various entities are always inflating costs for projects for their personal aggrandizement. Costs of infrastructure projects are higher than they ought to be.
“If we could reduce the cost of constructing each kilometer of a road, we would save money which would go to the health sector,” Kakande passionately stated.
Citing various structures that are constructed and they collapse, Kakande argued that as a country, we have failed to fight corruption, and this is hampering service delivery.
Kigulu South MP Andrew Kaluya stated that whereas the country has been peaceful for over 30 years, little progress has been made in the economic empowerment of Ugandans.
“We need to step up the fight against corruption. There is corruption in politics and all other sectors. Uganda cannot develop economically if we don’t successfully fight corruption.
Government has been just changing the name for poverty alleviation from Entandikwa to Bonna Bagaggawale and Operation Wealth Creation but the program is the same and it has failed. It has failed because it is politically motivated and always comes at the time when general elections are approaching,” Kaluya argued.
Makerere University lecturer Fred Muhumuza expressed concern that the country is now spending the biggest percentage of the government revenue collection on debt repayment other than service delivery, which he said doesn’t make economic sense.
In the 2018/2019 national budget, over sh9.6t was allocated to debt repayment. The allocation for debt repayment was about 65% of the sh16.4t the government planned to collect in the course of the financial year.