Govt, Civil Society Commend Strides Made Towards Inclusive Budgetary Process

Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda speaking at the opening of the exhibition on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda has said government is on track to delivering Uganda to a middle income status.

Rugunda said this on Wednesday while opening the Service Excellence Exhibition at Kololo Independence Grounds as part of the budget month.

The different Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government will for the three days be camped at Kololo to account to the public on how the funds allocated to them were implemented in the 2018/19 financial year.

He highlighted the key achievements of government during the 2018/19 financial year among them improvement of infrastructure. This, Rugunda said, is aimed at further lower the cost of doing business and to facilitate the private sector.

“The national paved road network has increased from 3,050km in 2008 to 4,551km in 2017/18. Government will continue to support the improvement in the connectivity of rural roads which will lead to increased productivity and service delivery,” Rugunda said.

The Prime Minister also noted the strides made in the energy sector, stating that installed generation capacity is now over 1,200MW. This will contribute towards industrialization and job creation, he said.

He said progress has also been made in the delivery of health services. In this aspect, malaria prevalence among children below 5 reduced by 30% and Antiretroviral Therapy had improved.

Speaking at the same event Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija said unlike the past years, the government has ensured the budget making process is inclusive.

“Budget used to involve only the President and Minister of Finance but this has changed. The budget process is now open to allow for everyone to give their ideas so that at the end of the day, the budget serves everyone’s needs,” the Minister said.

Julius Mukunda, the Executive Director of Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) said a lot has been done to improve the participation of citizens in budgetary processes and opening up space for citizens to influence government decisions.

He cited the single treasury account system, transferring government to service centres and increasing space for citizen participation.

“The citizens voices are central in budget making process. And this exhibition is a testimony that the civil society and government can work together to promote accountability,” Mukunda said.

However, he said that reforms are still needed to especially avert situations like the recent one where Parliament made cuts in the budget appropriated to URA and the Central Bank in order to enhance their (legislators) salaries.

“It is important to understand that Bank of Uganda needs to be well capitalized and URA must be well financed otherwise it might fail to realize its tax collection targets. If the MPs had channeled these funds to the critical sectors like health, that would be justified. We know the MPs are among the highest paid public servants”.

Mukunda proposed to the Prime Minister to form a Commission that will harmonize the salaries of all civil servants including Parliamentarians.

He also cited the perennial budgetary discipline (supplementary requests) and project overruns like NUSAF. On the issue of agencies and entities which return the funds appropriated to them to the consolidated fund, he said, such Accounting Officers need to be sacked.

The Commissioner General of Uganda Revenue Authority, Doris Akol said that the tax body has undertaken several reforms including automation of processes, one stop centres for business formalization, bringing all URA services under one roof among others. These, she said are aimed at increasing efficiency, convenience and enhancing tax compliance.

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