We planned poorly for parent districts - govt

The State Minister for General Duties in the Finance ministry, Mr  Henry Musasizi (right), addresses  journalists in Gulu City on Monday. Left is Mr Ambrose Lotyang, the principal economist in charge of budget at the Finance ministry. PHOTO / TOBBIAS JOLLY OWINY

What you need to know:

  • Mr Henry Musasizi, the State Minister of Finance in charge of General Duties, said the decision of technical officials at the ministry to give start-up funds to only new cities was poor.

The Ministry of Finance has admitted that districts from which cities were carved out are struggling due to laxity and poor planning.

Mr Henry Musasizi, the State Minister of Finance in charge of General Duties, said the decision of technical officials at the ministry to give start-up funds to only new cities was poor.

“This is poor planning on our side. If you have created a city in Gulu, where has the district gone? We gave start-up funds to (Gulu) cities and the districts did not get anything,” Mr Musasizi told journalists during the opening of a budget consultative training for local government authorities across the northern region in Gulu City on Monday.

He was responding to queries by chief administrative officers and leaders of Arua and Gulu districts who claimed the ministry had abandoned them.

Mr Alfred Okuonzi, the Arua chairperson, said the district is failing to deliver services and lacks office space due to inadequate funding.

Mr Christopher Opiyo Ateker, his Gulu counterpart, said relocation to their new Shs500m headquarters at Awach Sub-county has stalled for eight months.

Whereas the district required at least Shs2.5 billion as start-up capital to initialise the process, the money has since not been disbursed.

“We are still being housed within the city because we are waiting for our start-up capital. We have been having a series of meetings with our line minister (Local Government) and he promised that we will be given start-up capital but we are still waiting,” Mr Ateker said.

Mr Musasizi also said the parent districts have become vulnerable since the cities stripped them of revenue sources.

“The cities took everything away from them, revenue, structures (buildings), markets have almost remained in the cities,” he said.

Halt

However, Mr Musasizi said they had instructed the government against creating more administrative units until there is adequate funding for them.

“We said no more creation of administrative units to avoid this mix-up.  The planning was inadequate since it missed out several components,” the minister said.

Mr Musasizi also said Finance was working with the Local Government ministry to ensure that all the districts get funds in the next financial year.

New cities struggle too

Political leaders in the new cities have found themselves with positions without power or resources. They can neither break ground for new development projects or implement their manifesto because all the cities, for the second year running, are operating on the original budget allocation to them as municipalities. Various city officials in May said more land had been annexed to make the cities bigger than the predecessor municipality, meaning serving more people on smaller budget.

City mayors, for instance, do not have clarified power and responsibilities in law, and the fluid borders of operations have birthed clashes with division mayors, including on territory control for revenue collection. The town clerks who superintended civil servants in municipalities are still in office, but they do not know whether to sign official documents under their current title or as city clerks, which is the de facto portfolio.

Neither has there been a pay raise for political and technical city official and for the latter, uncertainty about how long they will have their jobs after the Public Service ministry rolled out a revised staff structure for them, raising hope that new hirings could commence at the start of the next fiscal year in July.

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