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Shs72 trillion budget: Brace for more debts in your name

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A woman eats snacks outside her locked shop during a traders' strike against unfair taxes and URA's Electronic Fiscal Receipting and Invoicing Solution (EFRIS) system on April 16, 2024 in Kampala. PHOTO/MICHEAL KAKUMIRIZI

Did you know that the immediate casualty of the revised Shs72 trillion budget is none other than you the taxpayer? 

According to public policy experts, budget analysts and economic policy researchers interviewed for this article, the Shs72 trillion national budget for the financial year 2024/2025 – barely a month away, will have a direct impact on not only debt sustainability levels but also service delivery, livelihood, and the economy.

All these put together will have a bearing on the quality of life you will enjoy going forward, according to economists Monitor spoke to.

Until most of yesterday, the 2024/2025 financial year national budget presented before Parliament on March 28th, 2024 amounted to slightly more Shs58 trillion.  Following what the minister of finance described as guidance from President Museveni and Cabinet the next financial year’s budget was last evening “adjusted” by Parliament to just above Shs72 trillion. 

The revised budget comes at a time when the government is struggling to hit revenue collection targets amidst skyrocketing public debt levels and reduced donor support and in some cases exiting multilateral financiers such as the World Bank/IMF.   

Although the government continues to maintain that the public debt level is still within a manageable ceiling, the debt service as a ratio of revenue, estimated at 30 percent by the Central Bank, means that for every Shs100 collected by Uganda Revenue Authority, some Shs30 are taken up by servicing debt, leaving only 70 shillings for recurrent and development expenditures. Fiscal consolidation should eventually lower debt service costs.

But with the excessively ambitious national budget, the Director of MUBS Economic Forum and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics, Mr Fred Muhumuza, believes that it is about time the population braces itself for more debts in their name. With the current population of 45 million Ugandans, each, including a newborn baby as of last evening will have to pay nearly Shs2 million each in cash to clear the current debt stock hovering in the range of Shs90 trillion.   

“We have been struggling to finance the Shs52 trillion budget, going by the growing supplementary amounting to more than even the budget itself. So this Shs72trillion budget will simply enhance our debt,” says Mr Muhumuza also a former Economic Advisor to the Minister of Finance.

He continues: “The Shs72 trillion budget only means another round of borrowing, but ultimately it will be at the expense of service delivery because of shrinking budget siphoned by debt service and repayment. For now, debt trajectory is in upward mode.

The biggest losers in this case will be sectors such as agriculture, health, education et al who like it has always been the case continue to feed on crumbs. Energy and roads usually budget winners may have to get used to being drained resources as debt servicing continues to muzzle most of the resources.

In another interview with the Executive Director of, the Centre for Budget and Tax Policy, Mr David Walakira, the revised budget seems like a crazy idea unless there is another source of revenue the government hasn’t fully disclosed but looking to tap into which he hopes is not the anticipated oil production in the 2025 or even increased domestic borrowing.

As for Mr Paul Corti Lakuma, a Senior Research Fellow at the Economic Policy Research Centre, a budget is just a plan. That said, he notes that the resource envelope that finances that plan is another game altogether.

He says: “We may have to borrow some more resources than we had earlier envisaged. Otherwise, it will be an uphill task to raise Shs14 trillion through taxes.”