A new report on budget spending shows that Shs1.1 trillion in the 2019/2020 Financial Year (FY) budget allocated for districts will be retained by parent ministries that have usurped responsibility to deliver planned services.
The findings by Advocate Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), a think-tank, based on its experts analysis of the current budget, faults the ministries of Agriculture, Education and Sports, Works and Transport, Health, Water and Environment and that of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
In a report titled Financing Local Governments in Uganda: An analysis of Proposed National Budget FY 2019/2020 and Proposals for Re-allocation, Mr Ramathan Ggoobi and Mr Daniel Lukwago, noted that Shs530b has been provided for “wasteful expenditures” such as buying luxury vehicles and spending on workshops.
The report says Shs530.2b “wasted” by these MDAs on non-essential should be redirected to the districts for better service delivery.
“These budget lines can be rationalised to improve service delivery and also free funds that may be allocated to local governments,” the report indicates.
While presenting the report during the decentralisation conference at Kampala yesterday, Dr Ggoobi, the lead researcher and a lecturer at Makerere University Business School (Mubs), said by the ministries’ retaining of these funds make the work of the district governments difficult. He said Parliament and the Finance ministry should reallocate Shs1.1t to the districts.
“Parliament, the Ministry of Finance and MDAs should also rationalise Shs530.2b budgeted on certain expenditures to free funds for local governments,” he said.
What others said
Ms Betty Bamukwatsa, the Rukungiri District Woman MP, and shadow local government minister, said: “I am requesting to know why the ministry is taking over the responsibilities that are supposed to be implemented by local governments.”
Ms Gertrude Rose Gamwera, the secretary general of Uganda Local Governments Association, said instead of recentralising, the central government ministries should build the capacities of local government leaders to deliver.
“On top of retaining the money, we want to understand as to why they cannot be brought to account for failing on that role,” she said.
Minister defends government
However, the State minister for Primary Education, Ms Rose Mary Seninde, defended the decision by ministries to withhold the funds saying most of the donor funds come with strict conditions.
“[Most] of these funds we are talking about are donor funds. The government wishes the best for this country, but conditions tie our hands,” she said.
Finance ministry officials were not available for response. Our attempts to reach the permanent secretary, Mr Keith Muhakanizi, were futile by press time.