The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Bank Group have announced a £9 million (Shs 46 billion) multi-donor Trust Fund to strengthen Uganda’s systems to better implement and manage public investment projects.
The Trust Fund will run for three and a half years, and will enable the government to carry out research and move forward with reforms to raise more domestic revenues.
It also seeks to improve public investment management, including attracting new private sector capital to finance infrastructure, and to support governance and anti-corruption efforts.
According to World Bank, low domestic revenue collections and savings, and poor management of public investments stand in Uganda’s way of realizing its development plans which include achieving lower middle income status by 2020.
“We’ve many programs aiming to support economic development but over the last years, we realized that poor management of public management and domestic resource mobilization are key constraints to growth in Uganda,” Jennie Barugh, Head of DFID in Uganda said.
She noted that the constraints to achieving value for money on Uganda’s public investments are partly explained by poor management, bad procurement processes, corruption and insufficient funds for maintenance of these projects.
On demand, Barugh, noted, experts from the U.K will offer support to Uganda on better management models including Public Private Partnerships (PPP).
The Fund which will be managed by Works Bank in Uganda will be accessed by MDAs to deliver high priority areas and for World Bank to carry out technical assistance required by government on the said constraints.
Speaking to journalists at the World Bank country office in Kampala, Christina Malmberg Calvo, Country Manager, World Bank Group said that “the Trust Fund will support Government to strengthen management of public investments so that the right investments are selected, competitively procured and supervised, implemented on time, and subsequently maintained to deliver the intended impact on economic growth and poverty reduction”.
“The Trust Fund is $12m We consider these as catalytic funds. There is a lot of experience on public investment management globally to learn from. What is a high impact project where you get the value for money you are looking for? There is a lot of practice glovally on this but not many people know how to apply it,” she said.
As part of building human resource capacity, the Trust can also be used strengthen the educational curriculum in higher institutions of learning regarding public investment management.
Malmberg said that some project proposals have already been received. The first round of call for proposals closed on June 14, 2018, and subsequent rounds will follow every after six months until the funds are fully used.
Returns on Uganda’s public investment are still low and the same is true for domestic revenue, said the Executive Director at National Planning Authority (NPA), Dr Joseph Muvawala said.
“We hope that this Trust Fund and the proposals that are coming through will address some of the critical areas of resource mobilization in this country. If we don’t have value of money, the investment that we are doing in infrastructure will not yield much,” Dr Muvawala said.
Muvawala said that without such reforms, NDP II is bound to fail at its implementation as was the case with NDP I. He described bankable projects as those with high impact, maximum economic benefits and where Uganda has a comparative advantage.
Uganda’s development plan (NDPII), which is well into its mid-point, aims to transform the country into a modern and prosperous economy by 2040.
To achieve this target, the government has increased investments in infrastructure to address the binding constraints to growth and job creation.
A Joint Advisory Committee will oversee the Trust Fund, and is comprised of the heads of the World Bank and DFID, and government representative from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, National Planning Authority and the Office of the Prime Minister.
The Trust Fund has a rapid response window that will enable the World Bank to provide quick policy advice, technical assistance, and any other interventions, as need may arise.
This is the second such partnership between DFID and the World Bank. The first Trust Fund, also totaling USD 12 million, supported the government to successfully implement the first phase of the NDP from 2010-/11 to 2014/15.