Civil society actors ask MPs to reject the amendments on the Public Finance Management Act 2015.
By Francis Emorut
Civil society actors under the umbrella of Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) have asked MPs to reject the amendments on the Public Finance Management Act 2015, saying any such reforms are "unfavorable".
Finance Minister Matia Kasaija on September 30 tabled amendments to the law.
The group said the move by the minister shocked them, especially after the Act was passed and assented by President Yoweri Museveni barely six months ago.
During a press briefing held in Kampala on Sunday, the group displayed posters against the changes, urging Parliament to say no to unfavourable amendments to the piece of legislation.
It drew also farmers from Kibuku, Pallisa, Kibaale and CSOs representatives across the country.
Julius Mukunda, the coordinator of CSBAG, explained that in its current form, the law provides strong checks and balances against wasteful government expenditure and debt financing.
He noted that the Act allows enhanced parliamentary oversight over government fiscal management as well as conformity of sector budgets to gender and equity budget guidelines developed by government.
Julius Mukunda (left), the coordinator of CSBAG and policy analyst Patrick Katabazi. (Credit: Francis Emorut)
The civil society group expressed concern about replacing accounting officers with sector.
"It absolves the accounting officer of any personal responsibility in financial management of public finances. CSOs believe that this will encourage corruption with impunity," Mukunda noted.
The group also questioned the rationale to remove the certificate of gender equity, saying the number of teenage pregnancies is going to rise.
"This is a disappointment given that Uganda was the first country in the world to have a gender clause in public finance management laws,” added Mukunda.
Ahmed Hadji, the team leader of African Youth Development Link, pointed out that there is no way Government can run the economy without paying attention to institutional governance.
"What happens to 24% teenage pregnancy if the certificate of equity is removed?" wondered Hadji.
"If you remove this component you are denying many more girls opportunity.”
Hadji also criticized the proposal in the amendments for government to access finance from the Central Bank without approval of Parliament, saying this is going to cause the worst inflation the country has never witnessed before.
"We are going to have the worst inflation which is going to affect businesses – and is not good for anti-corruption safeguards.”
Activists expressed their disproval of the reforms. (Credit: Francis Emorut)
David Walakira, a budget policy analyst with CSBAG, noted that the spirit behind the move of amendments to the Public Finance Management Act was not in good faith.
Patrick Katabazi, a policy analyst with CSBAG, observed that the haphazard amendments are not good as it erodes safeguards against corruption.
He called on citizens to rise up and resist the move.
On her part, Carol Namagembe, who is programme associate with CSBAG, appealed to parliamentary committee on finance to give CSOs a chance to have their input to the proposed amendments with the aim of maintaining a status quo.
"CSOs declare that the proposed amendments are now contrary to keeping prudent finance management principles and urge Parliament to reject it," Mukunda said.
They resolved, among other resolutions, to;
- have accounting officers be maintained to develop budget framework papers for their institutions rather than leaving it to the sector
- rejected a proposal that allows Bank of Uganda to print money to fill any void in recurrent revenues unless approved by Parliament
- and also called on citizens to lobby their area MPs to reject the proposals and maintain the current Public Finance Management Act 2015.
CSOs reject proposed amendments on PFM law