LEFT—RIGHT; Mr. Isaac Mpoza (MoFPED), Dr. Corti Paul Lakuma (EPRC),Hon. Mukitale (Former chair of Parliament committee on National Economy), Hon. David Bahati (Minister of State for Planning), Dr. Ezra Suruma (UDN Board Chair) and Dr. Fred Muhumuza (Research & Advocacy specialist—KPMG) comprised the panel at the Symposium.
Dr. Ezra Suruma, the former Bank of Uganda Governor and Senior Presidential Advisor on the economy has tasked government to ensure that all that is borrowed is put to the rightful use. While speaking at a Uganda Debt Network public symposium themed ‘Debt Dynamics and Management: Which way forward for Uganda’ - Prof. Suruma noted that Uganda ought to ensure that she doesn't suffer the Greek fate.
‘I was once directly in charge of paying these loans. Some of these didn't even have records but had to face the borrowers. Sometimes the State needed answers, which we didn't have’ Prof. Suruma added.
The symposium was attended by over 200 participants including legislators, members of the European Union, World Bank, Ministry of Finance officials and members from CSOs.
UDN Board Chairperson Prof. Ezra Suruma addressing the participants at the Debt Symposuim.
Honorable David Bahati, the State Minister for Planning, Ministry of Finance stressed that government hardly makes enough from borrowing domestically because there’s not enough available; 540 billion now in deficit.
He urged Ugandans to help the government provide social services like education, medical care and social security. Hon. Bahati tasked civil society to spearhead discussions that will provide policy options for government to ensure that the available resources are utilized to reduce foreign debt.
Dr. Fred Muhumuza who presented a paper on invigorating the debt question recommended that government strengthens institutions that manage loans. He added that there is a need to have the legal framework to regulate continuous borrowing without accountability the citizens.
Cross-section of participants during the Debt Symposium at Hotel Africana
UDN continues to empower local communities to ensure full citizen participation in planning and implementation of public services. Community members from Nebbi district under the UDN led Community Based Monitoring and Evaluation System (CBMES) model on 29th July 2015 presented findings from their monitoring exercises (education and health sectors) to district leaders during a district dialogue organised by Uganda Debt Network in Nebbi Town. Officials that attended the meeting include; the Chairman LCV, Chief Administrative Officer's Representative, District Education Officer (DEO), District Health Officer (DHO), District Internal Security Officer (DISO), District Inspector of Schools, Department heads and Sub County leadership from four sub counties (Erussi, Panyimur, Nyaravur and Alwi) in Nebbi District.
The community monitors discovered a number of issues in the sectors monitored that needed immediate attention from the district. In the Education sector (UPE) for instance, issues of lack of parental support towards the education of their children, poor sanitary facilities, absence of learning aids for children with special needs, laxity by teachers in preparing lessons plans stood out. Irregularity in posting and approving their transfers and lack of staff quarters were also revealed by the monitoring exercises.
The District Education Officer, Mr. Angara Patrick pledged to take on the issues as priority. Mr. Robert Okumu, the LC V noted that UDN was doing a noble job of building the capacity of community members as well as duty bearers in Nebbi. ‘UDN should also engage Government to the fullest since it does advocacy and lobbying so that the issues do not remain hanging,’ he added.
UDN with support from USAID/RTI empowers local communities in Nebbi district to demand for accountability from duty bearers as a way of improving service delivery.
On 26th June 2015, the new Board of Directors of Uganda Debt Network, which was elected during the Annual General Meeting officially took over office after a handover ceremony held at Fairway Hotel in Kampala. The new Vice Chairperson, Mr. Edward Gaamuwa congratulated the new Board upon this achievement and called upon them to work as a team for the achievement of the UDN mission and vision. Mr. Gaamuwa was speaking on behalf of the Chairperson, Prof. Ezra Suruma, who was absent due to official duty. Prof. Suruma was re-elected to serve another consecutive term, ending in 2017.
Members of the Outgoing and Incoming Board of Directors pose for a group photo after the handover ceremony.
The new Board in its inaugural meeting after the handover.