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Development plan detached from Budget

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Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuk

Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka displays the National Budget last year in June. The National Development Plan seems to be operating independent from the National Budget. FILE PHOTO 

By ISMAIL MUSA LADU

Posted  Tuesday, February 18  2014 at  02:02

In Summary

Funding problems. The National Development Plan is supposed to be funded by the Budget but donors have shunned it.

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I n the next four months, the first part of the National Development Plan will give way to the second phase after nearly five years of what economic and development analysts describe as mixed fortunes.

The National Planning Authority (NPA), the planners and coordinators of the National Development Plans (NDPs), however, give themselves a 60 per cent rating, arguing that they could have done better had the government ministries, departments and agencies aligned their programmes and projects to the development document.

Private Sector Foundation (PSFU) policy analyst Moses Ogwal, in an interview last week, said more should have been done compared to what the planning agency claims to have achieved.
According to the NPA chairperson, Kisamba Mugerwa, one of the biggest achievements the institution has registered is transforming the attitudes of the government from previously thinking short-term to long-term planning.

He said: “We are now on track. And we know where we are headed.”
This, he claims, is evident by the attention given to key economic sectors like energy and roads.

Challenges
It is, however, understood that the NDP1 succumbed to various challenges which incapacitated its ability to deliver results in a way it should have.

Besides the poor coordination between the government ministries, departments and agencies that affected the implementation of NDP1, it is understood that the situation was further worsened by inadequate funds to facilitate the enforcement of the plans.
It is now feared that this trend could spill over to the second phase.

“You will be surprised that there is no relationship between the national Budget and the grand plans,” Mr Bernard Tayebwa, an economic analyst, said last week in an interview.
He continued: “Unless the budget is directed towards achieving the plans, the vicious cycle will continue.”

Mr Lawrence Bategeka, a development and economics analyst, said in another interview last week that the first phase did not attract the attention of the donors. So, should the second phase continue with the same trend, the outcome of the development plan will remain on paper.
He said unlike the previous programme called the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP), which had external (donor) support, the NDP is struggling with funding as donors give it cold shoulders despite the fact that it is more difficult than the previous programmes.

“If NDPII is to take off, then the government must mobilise internal resources to fund it or else look to the countries like China (East) and forget the traditional funders in the western countries,” Mr Bategeka said.

Focus of NDP
As opposed to PEAP which is more of a poverty reduction programme, the NDP’s emphasis is on wealth creation and sustainability at the household level, something the donors say should be the function of good macro-economics instead of a government document—NDP. And for this reason they are yet to embrace the NDP fully.

According to Mr Bategeka, NDPII is not any different from the first one given that it is centered around fixing infrastructure like roads and efficient railway systems, good education and promotion of value addition in agricultural produces.

Way out
The approach that will be used to reap the benefit of the NDPII, according to the Director, development planning, Mr Patrick Birungi, will be what he called top-down (Vision) and bottom up (sector and Local Government Priority projects and programmes) in line with the NDPII Objectives and priorities.

This will involve looking at the Sector development Plans, Local Government Development Plans (LGDP), budgets and Other players plans (donors Partners, CSOs, Private sector), including ensuring that cross-cutting issues are well addressed (for example population, social protection, human rights, gender, culture and national values.

For the case of government ministries, departments and agencies, Mr Birungi said there will be consequences for officials who will let their respective sectors down.

iladu@ug.nationmedia.com