KAMPALA – The National Planning Authority (NPA) has commenced engagement of the Judiciary, with a view of creating the Administration of Justice Programme – under the new “Programmatic Approach” to planning and budgeting. The meetings at the Judiciary headquarters in Kampala, started on Monday this week.
The move follows a meeting at the Judiciary headquarters last week between Judiciary’s top administration and a team from both NPA and the Ministry of Finance, which was led by Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija.
The Judiciary has vehemently protested a move by both NPA and the Ministry of Finance having placed it and the other Justice, Law and Order Sector institutions in a planning and budgeting programme, which is supervised by the Office of the President.
“The Judiciary is an independent arm of Government. There is no way you can place this institution under the supervision of another arm of Government,” retorted the Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, during the meeting.
“The best way to do in this regard is to create an independent programme for the Judiciary. In JLOS, we are like-minded institutions – a meritorious model that is aligned to what we are proposing here,” he said.
After lengthy discussions, Minister Kasaija conceded and directed NPA and together with the Finance Ministry technocrats to sit with the Judiciary and explore options of creating the Justice programme.
“You must do this quickly because we are almost completing the budgeting cycle for the Financial Year 2021/22,” said Minister Kasaija, adding that the Programme Budgeting approach is intended to bring about better budgeting coordination, implementation and optimal utilization of resources.
Judiciary’s Permanent Secretary, Pius Bigirimana, had earlier submitted that JLOS is a good example of government sectors that have worked very well. “The best coordinating mechanism is actually here and distorting something that is working is being academic,” he said.
Deputy Chief Justice, Richard Buteera, reminded the planners that perceptions matter a lot. “Working together may be a good thing, but you do not want the public to hear that the Judiciary is being supervised by another institution.”
NPA’s Chairperson, Prof. Pamela Mbabazi, said that her team had appreciated the concerns of the Judiciary. “Our intention was not to erode the independence of the Judiciary, but we hoped that the institutions of Government would still work together under the same programme,” she said.
NPA’s Executive Director, Dr. Joseph Muvawala, said all he needed was a go ahead from the Minister and then the plan would be revised. “Plans are not cast in stone. We can have this amendment done,” he said.
Government unveiled the Third National Development Plan (NDP III) for the next five years from 2020/21 – 2024/25, with a goal of increasing household incomes and improve quality of life of Ugandans. NDP III is to be achieved under five key objectives, 20 development strategies and 18 programmes.
The Judiciary was originally placed in Programme 18 (Security and Governance) under the political leadership of the Minister in charge of the Presidency, a matter that has caused widespread discomfort across the Judiciary.
Both the Judiciary and the technocrats of NPA and Ministry of Finance are now considering the creation of the Administration of the Judiciary Programme under Objective No. 5: Strengthen the role of the state in development.
The Programme, which should comprise the Judiciary and the Judicial Service Commission, among others, is proposed to be supervised by the Chief Justice as the Political head and the Secretary to the Judiciary as its technical head. The new programme would ideally make the Judiciary the secretariat of the present-day JLOS Secretariat.