On Tuesday, 15th April 2014, Uganda Debt Network together with other partners under the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) umbrella hosted the annual Pre- Budget Dialogue to discuss the FY 2014/15 National Budget proposals.

The dialogue, held at the UMA Conference Hall in Kampala under the theme, "Every shilling counts: Are the FY 2014/15 Budget Proposals Efficient and Effective to deliver us from Poverty?" drew participants from the Civil Society, the Private Sector, academia, Members of Parliament, Ministry of Finance and small-scale farmers and community monitors from different parts of the country. A total of 235 people (148 males and 87 females) attended the half-day meeting.

The CSBAG presented various CSO perspectives on the budget strategy and priorities for FY 2014/15, highlighting some major concerns like reduction in funding to the education sector and public sector management, inter alia. On the other hand, funds increments to Agriculture, Health, Water and Environment and Works and Transport sectors were applauded.

The CSBAG Statement pointed out some critical activities that are underfunded in the 2014/15 Budget, including wage enhancement for other health workers who are not medical officers at Health Centre IIIs and IVs (UGX 129 bn is required annually to enhance all staff salaries in the sector).

It was noted that the recruitment of health workers at Local Government level and at the Ministry of Health headquarters was crucial to deal with issues of low staffing.

 Revisit decision to involve veterans and UPDF in NAADSTHE National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) started as a farmer led Agricultural service delivery system targeting the poor subsistence farmers with major focus on women, youth and people living with disabilities.

The programme was intended to increase on the effectiveness of Agricultural extension services under Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA). As we are aware that the programme also aimed at increasing food security, to improve on the nutrition and increase house hold incomes.

In reference to the studies that have been conducted by Uganda Debt Network on the Beneficiary assessment on NAADS in 2010, Review of the NAADS phase II implementation guide lines, the Needs assessment that was conducted in 2011 and the duplication of roles of local government officials in Agriculture.

 Uganda's debt, Let's trade carefullyThe media has been awash with issues of Uganda's debt (e.g. New Vision 10th October, 2013 and Red Pepper 5th October). Uganda Debt Network (UDN) is simply re-engineering the debt debate, in view of policy and poverty reduction prospective by Government. We applaud some Members of Parliament (MPs) we have closely worked with to bring issues of debt acquisition and management to the fore, for public knowledge and parliamentary oversight. We together need to see how we obtain policy options relevant to ameliorating Uganda's debt situation.

In the case of one Rwakakamba, let's tell the truth, including about national debt. The impression, for instance that "Uganda will borrow $2 billion to build the 600-megawatts Karuma....." is false. The said funds, by the Chinese Government, through CWE company, will go to two hydro-power projects at Isimba and Karuma (both already commissioned by H.E. Museveni); and the Isimba-Bujagali transmission line. Uganda is expected to co-fund 15% of the total funds. Meanwhile, Isimba will attract 100% funding based on concessional rates and Karuma with about 45% debt on commercial lending rates. That "Uganda Government is not borrowing money to import luxuries and consumables like perfumes, artificial buttocks........." is known.