What you need to know:
Development partners encourage the government to continue the path of prudent fiscal management by ring-fencing resources to protect the poor
The Local Development Partners Group (LDPG) in Uganda has issued nine priorities that government should consider in the next budget of 2023/24 with the capital development being the top priority. If these are adopted, the government will register remarkable progress in its quest to economic development.
Amidst these priorities, the development partners encourage the government to continue the path of prudent fiscal management by ring-fencing resources to protect the poor and pursuing concessional financing.
The joint statement by the Local Development Partners Group (LDPG) presented by Mr Richard Nelson, the USAID/Uganda Mission director during the national conference on budget for the fiscal year 2023/24 on September 13 at Kololo Independence ceremonial grounds said they believe that fundamentals underpinning reforms in climate change adaptation and mitigation, domestic revenue mobilisation, export promotion, and domestic value-addition have been identified. If these are implemented, they can facilitate change.
“We welcome the trend towards increasing budget allocations on human capital, in line with the commitment under the IMF financed facility. Going forward, it will be important to increase expenditures for health and education further, specifically, early childhood learning and skilling, reproductive health and health systems strengthening to make steady progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals in the context of a rapidly growing population,” the development partners said.
Mr Nelson said, enhanced domestic spending on human capital is likely to lead to higher donor contributions, such as under the Global Partnership for Education.
Second on top of the list is Social Protection. Given high commodity prices and higher poverty levels in the aftermath of the economic slowdown of the past two years, Mr Nelson said there is need to improve targeting and scaling up available resources for social protection while promoting debt sustainability.
This includes increasing financing for women’s economic empowerment, rolling-out the Labour-Intensive Public Works programme (especially for youth) and expanding Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) by lowering the entry requirements into the programme and including the entire eligible population.
Mr Nelson said to sustainably move households out of subsistence into the market economy, it is necessary to support agricultural productivity through investment in “public” goods such as extension, research, and development (especially drought and disease resistant seeds varieties), promotion of climate-smart farming practices, safe and environment friendly pest and disease control, investing in marketplace development, and stronger inspection and certification functions.
There is also a need to prepare and integrate small holder farmers in value addition more than what has been done in the past.
Going ahead, development partners said maintenance of existing old and newly paved roads should be prioritised to prevent erosion of assets and congestion.
“We encourage the government to allocate more funds toward preservation of assets and allocate additional funds towards improvement of transport infrastructure in the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area, including for public transport,” he said.
The current high global prices are a challenge but also an opportunity if trade integration is deepened in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Mr Nelson said Uganda should strive to improve the quantity and quality of exports, especially agricultural products in which the country has a competitive advantage.
“We encourage the government to safeguard competitiveness and improve trade relations with the East African Community (EAC) countries while minimising non-tariff barriers including products failing to meet sanitary and phytosanitary standards. Ensuring product quality through certification under the leadership of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards is critical,” he said.