George Bogere, a research fellow at Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), wondered about the criteria used while creating new administrative units
Richard Ssewakiryanga, the Executive Director of Uganda National NGO Forum speaking. Looking on re Imelda Namagga, the Programme Manager at UDN (in maroon attire (Dustan Balaba, the Tororo CAO(second left) and George Bogere, a research fellow at ACODE (extreme left) during CSO Pre-Budget dialogue
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Local Government officials have called for the end of the creation of new administrative structures such as town councils, sub-counties, and districts, saying they have furthered the funding gaps with of Local Governments.
According to them, the Government should instead focus on the creation of economic zones in the existing structures to boost local economies hence increased revenue tax collections.
"The most important thing to note is that the creation of administrative units is not very helpful for the country are economic zones, we want to see more Ugandans doing a lot more in terms of improving their lives, participating in economic activity, earning incomes and expanding their economic potential.
Those things are done when Local Governments become economic units," said Richard Ssewakiryanga, the Executive Director of Uganda National NGO Forum.
He was speaking during the fourth session of the FY 2020/21 CSO Pre-Budget Dialogue that took place at the National Water and Sewerage Corporation International Resource Center in Kampala recently.
Unfunded administrative structures
"To have 700 administrative units means that we are looking at the wrong side. What should we look at now is how do we turn them into economic units? Many countries are now looking at economic zones, either free economic zones that can help the country to start to bring in and attracting capital from companies and I think that's where Uganda should be going rather than creating administrative gardens," said Ssewakiryanga.
George Bogere, a research fellow at Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), wondered about the criteria used while creating new administrative units, citing at districts arguing that most of them are lacking staffing, skills and enough skills to carry out their mandate which is serving citizens.
"We had always had the natural economic units that work for us…But where are e now, I think we need to look at a new direction of economic viability," he stated.
‘Address the low revenue collections'
On the issue of Local Government funding, Imelda Namagga, the Programme Manager at Uganda Debt Network (UDN) said that most of the money that districts collect from the people is remitted to Central Government hence leaving funding gaps.
However, he said some districts are also doing enough in local revenue mobilization, citing at artisans and craft people and farmers, most of whom are not taxed Local Government.
She also pointed at political interference as one of the reasons that have affected revenue collections in different Local Governments. "Most businesses in districts are owned by chairmen and Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) and when you try to collect taxes from them, they hate it and come after you. This has contributed to low revenue collections," she said.