Parliament approves sh7b special fund for Busoga region

By Henry Sekanjako

The Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS) 2016/17 report released in September 2017, by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) cited Busoga as one of the sub-regions with the highest levels of poverty.

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PARLIAMENT  BUSOGA REGION
 
Parliament has approved sh7.5b for Busoga Special Program fund, aimed at supporting a range of sectors to improve economic standards in Busoga sub-region.
 
The Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS) 2016/17 report released in September 2017, by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) cited Busoga as one of the sub-regions with the highest levels of poverty. Others are Karamoja and Bukedi.
 
However according to the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, just like other sub-regions, the government approved a proposal for a special fund to help Busoga improve its economic status.
 
"I'm glad to announce that the government considered the need for a special program for the development of Busoga and to achieve this, Parliament has passed Sh7.5b for the program," Kadaga said.
 
The revelation was contained in Kadaga's speech delivered by Paul Akamba, the Busiki County MP at the 2019 Basoga Twegaite Convention in New Jersey USA.
The event was attended by MPs mainly from Busoga sub-region and the Basoga community working and living in the diaspora.
 
Henry Maurice Kibalya, the Bugabula south MP described the fund as timely as the region is grappling with poverty.
 
"We have succeeded in the special program for Busoga which will uplift the region just like other development programs such as  NUSAF and the Karamoja development program," Kibalya said.
 
Issues
Anthony Mula, the Technical head, Busoga development consortium, a development body that brings together Busoga leaders expressed gratitude to the government for establishing the fund, saying it will greatly impact on the lives of the people of Busoga.
 
According to Mula, the money should be used on sectors such as education; Tourism, Investment, agriculture and environmental protection which he said are the major issues in the region.
 
"This fund has been long overdue; we have been trying to engage the government for a long time to pass it and here it is, it will effectively address issues like education in the region," Mula told New Vision recently.
 
In a separate interview,  Amos Lugolobi, the Chairperson Parliament's committee on Budget said the money was approved by Parliament under the Luweero Triangle Ministry, during the consideration of the 2020/21 National Budget which was passed by the House on Friday last week.
 
"It is a Parish model arrangement in terms of doing business. The money will go towards programs that are meant to empower people economically," Lugolobi told New Vision.
 
Recently, Leaders hailing from Busoga region developed  11 point development agenda that is aimed at empowering the region economically to fight poverty among other social challenges such as poverty.
 
In the past, Government has introduced several development programs for marginalised areas like the Northern Uganda Social Action Plan (NUSAF I and II) for the Northern region, The Karamoja Integrated Disarmament and Development Program for Karamoja region and The Luwero Rwenzori Development Program (LRDP) for the Central and Western regions.
 
A 2018 report by the Uganda Bureau of Statistic (UBOS) ranked Busoga region which has been granted a special fund, as one of the regions with the highest poverty prevalence in the country.
 
Tourism
At the event, Kadaga implored Ugandans living in the diaspora to consider investing in tourism in Busoga sub-region saying it is one of the lucrative sectors that will uplift the region from poverty.
 
Kadaga said that different sites in Busoga have been identified adding that once developed, such projects have the potential to generate revenue for the development of the sub-region.
 
"We have partnered with the Busoga Tourism initiative, Ministry of Tourism and Uganda Tourism board to attract both local and international tourists. I urge you the people of Busoga living in the diaspora to support our economy through tourism," she said.
 
She said they had developed Bishop Hannington Memorial Site in Kyando, Mayuge district, a religious site where Bishop James Hannington is believed to have been murdered.
 
Kadaga urged Ugandans to take advantage of Kagulu hill in Buyende district and Itanda falls in Jinja district.
 
"This Kagulu Hill which is about 3,500 feet above the sea level provides an adventurous hill climbing challenge," Kadaga stated.
 
Sugar Bill
Meanwhile, Ugandans in the Diaspora especially those hailing from Busoga tasked the MPs to explain their position on the Sugar Bill which has since been returned by President Yoweri Museveni for reconsideration.
 
The Basoga community expressed fear that the provision on Zoning would eliminate sugar cane out growers and also create a monopoly.
 
Tony Isubikalu, the chairman of the board, Twegaite international said Zoning as provided in the Sugar Bill is discriminatory against the out growers.
 
"If you say I don't build a mill within 5-10 radiuses and that my mother is going to get a truck to transport sugar cane to Madhvan for three days then that is not correct. What they are doing is to create a monopoly," Isubikalu said.
 
In response, however, Jinja West MP Moses Balyeku clarified to the Basoga community why the President had returned the Bill to Parliament.
 
He said; "The President was concerned that the big millers were paying large sums of money in tax revenue and the small millers were paying small sums of money. That is an area where we have to debate and internalize the issue of taxation".