Uganda should achieve budget transparency threshold, says ex-finance minister 

Fred Jachan Omach

What you need to know:

  • Whereas Uganda has the most open budget in East Africa, former finance minister Fred Jachan Omach says the country has room to do better 

Former State Finance Minister in charge of General Duties and chairman of Uganda Debt Network Fred Jachan Omach, has said Uganda can achieve the 61 budget transparency threshold if government could promptly publish input of citizens that provides alternative views.  

Speaking in an interview, Mr Omach indicated that whereas Uganda is ranked number one in terms of budget transparency in East Africa, the country can perform better if citizens are informed of alternative suggestions.

“Government has improved in publishing budget documents. But has performed poorly on publishing citizens’ budgets,” he said, noting publishing such budgets promptly feeds into the budget transparency process as indicated by the Open Budget Survey.

The Open Budget Survey 2023 last week noted that at a 59 score out of a possible 100, Uganda had the most transparent budget in East Africa. 

However, the score was below the 61 threshold, an indication that government doesn’t provides enough data for citizens to understand budgets. 125 countries were surveyed, from which Uganda was ranked 44th.  

Mr Omach noted that Uganda can achieve a 65 score if government publishes citizens’ budgets at the same time as the national budget, data on financial and non-financial assets, expenses, arrears, and liabilities. 

The Open Budget Survey indicated that Uganda scores well in budget oversight, but Mr Omach noted that implementation oversight remains weak, which could improve if audit institutions are strengthened.   Investment state minister Evelyn Anite , applauded civil society for the continued oversight, urging them to speak out on corruption and get more involved in the budgeting process.

“I am embarrassed with the corruption in the country . .. citizens are tired,” she said, noting that some ministries don’t want their budgets questioned, which creates corruption tendencies. 

Dr Munir Safieldin, the Unicef representative said that whereas Uganda fell short of the critical 61 score, the country was on track, urging government to create measures through which public participation in the budget process can be improved.