Monday April 21 2014

National Development Plan will transform the economy

By Rose Namayanja Nsereko

The government of Uganda is committed to achieving results through the efficient and effective delivery of key public services, maintaining law and order and in facilitating the transformation of the economy to enable the private sector to flourish, to expand enterprise and ultimately ensure the prosperity of Ugandans.

This commitment is embedded in the country’s national vision that aims at a transformed Ugandan society from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country within 30 years, to be achieved through a succession of five-year national development plans. The current five-year National Development Plan targets an increase in per capita income from $506 in 2008/09 to $900 in 2014/15 and a decline in the proportion of the population living in poverty from 31 per cent in 2005/06 to 24.5 per cent in 2014/15.

The plan aims to achieve this through addressing structural bottlenecks in the economy and increasing public investment to infrastructure, human resource development, facilitating access to critical production inputs in agriculture and industry, and promoting science, technology and innovation.
Over the past two decades, Uganda has made good progress following the unstable political situation and economic mismanagement that characterised the 1970s and early –mid 1980s.

Between 1987 and 1995, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at an average of 6.5 per cent translating to 3.4 per cent per capita. GDP increased from the mid-1990s under the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (1997-2007) which contributed to the reduction in the proportion of people living below the poverty line from 44 per cent in 1997/98 to 31 per cent in 2005/06.

The NDP target of 24.5 per cent for 2014/15 has also been achieved in 2009/10. The government’s policies under the PEAP included the introduction of free primary education under the Universal Primary Education and universal Secondary Education initiatives, primary health care and HIV/Aids prevention initiatives, the plan for the modernisation of agriculture and land reforms.

These initiatives have generated results, with a rise in primary school enrolment, a reduction in enrolment disparities between rich and poor, urban and rural, with rise in adult literacy rates and a declining gender gap.
Over 80 per cent of children who attended primary education and adult literacy improved from 69 per cent in 2005/06 to 74 per cent in 2009/10. HIV/Aids prevalence rate fell from 30 per cent in 1980s to 7.3 per cent in 2011.

The above improvements in welfare and well-being have in part been possible through government action and reform. The reduction on political violence, establishment and maintenance of a stable macro-economic environment (low inflation, competitive exchange rate), the privatisation programme and market liberalisation can be considered as key enablers of the growth of private investment, and the relative peace and prosperity experienced.

Within the framework of the PEAP, benefit incidence analysis has shown that public spending on health care and primary education became more pro-poor. Public financial management reform is beginning to strengthen the management and control over public spending, and the tracking and use of resources.
Recent budget reforms have enabled ministries, departments and agencies and Local Governments to plan and budget against the provision of products and services and report quarterly on spending and progress towards stated output targets as the basis for the next financial releases.

This has been strengthened by introduction of a mechanism of reviewing and reporting on government performance twice a year to provide timely information to Cabinet for decision making.

The government similarly has made an effort to identify output and outcome targets in most sectors as a first step to make an improvement in the clarity and results orientation of sector goals and targets and how these are linked to National Development Plan’s objectives.

The government has also realised that stronger coordination is needed to ensure that monitoring and evaluation helps guide public actions toward greater cost-effectiveness in pursuit of poverty eradication and to improve information standards, requirements, and systems that support different levels of national decision-making and has under the office of the Prime Minister established structures and mechanisms to coordinate the government policy and programme.
Reforms in the public sector have been further enhanced by the introduction of the National Development Plan, which has provided overarching strategic direction for the country’ development.

However, challenges still remain, and provide the rationale for the formulation of this policy. The requirements for effective planning, monitoring and evaluation in the public sector are only partially addressed in existing legislation outlined in the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda (1995), Local Government Act (1997), Uganda Bureau of statistics Act (1998), Budget Act (2001), National planning Authority Act (2002), Public Finance and Accountability Act (2003), and the National Audit Act (2008).

Consequently, different practices have arisen across government in the monitoring, inspection and evaluation of public policies and interventions. These differences reflect variations in priorities, resources and capacities between sectors, reinforced by the international community who has invested more heavily in some sectors than others.
This necessitated the formulation of the policy.

Ms Namayanja is the Minister of Information and National Guidance.