KAMPALA — Leading economists have tasked Central government to ensure national resources are spent at the lowest levels of government to unlock their potential.
Providing keynote adrress at a post-budget conference organized by the Institute of Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU), Makerere University lecturer and Policy analyst Ramathan Ggoobi dismissed Uganda’s decentralization system of government, saying
the central government accounts for most of the expenditure and giving no chance to the local governments to operate effectively.
For example, in the 2021/2022 national budget, 82% of the budget will be managed by the central government while local governments will only have 16% of it.
Ggoobi says the 16% allocation is too little, noting little funding largely incapacitates local governments hence affecting service delivery.
He, however, said if the new Parish Model policy is well implemented, could help the situation.
“The idea is that the people will decide what they need, in what place. If it is infrastructure, how do you ensure it is what the people want, instead of counting the national roads that people cannot access, what data is government using to plan and budget,” Mr. Ggoobi said.
“Is it data which really reflects the needs of the people? The parish model is about taking the government to the people, so that the transformation agenda is driven at the parish level,” he added.
Government says the model will see development activities planned for and executed in parishes, as the lowest level unit for planning and development, as government moves to advance the benefits of decentralisation.
The initiative aims to spring the nearly 39 per cent of households from subsistence economy to commercial production.
As opposed to previous interventions like Entandikwa, the Youth Livelihood Programmes and Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme that only focused on giving out money to interest groups, the Parish Development Model will look at different aspects of advancing household development.
The Model, which is expected to start on July 1, encompasses seven pillars, including production, infrastructure and economic services, financial inclusion and social services. The others are community data (Community Information System), governance and administration, and mindset change.
Mr Kenneth Mugambe, the director for Budget at the Ministry of Finance, says the first three months into the financial year will be spent on parish chiefs operationalising the Parish Development Committees, who will be in charge of the initiative. Implementation will then kick off in October.
While delivering the Budget speech on June 10, the Minister of Finance in charge of Planning, Mr Amos Lugoloobi, said Shs30 million will be given to each of the 10,694 parishes for the revolving fund. Parliament had, however, slashed this budget by half.
On his part, Prof Twaha Kaawaase, the Deputy Prime Minister of Buganda proposed that the Parish Model would be better administered or implemented under a regional governance system which would give a more stable and predictable environment for planners.
He reasons that the districts are becoming a difficult centre of administration because every time and then, their sizes change and new and smaller units are created, hence disrupting programs and service implementation.