As Government embarks on a plan to raise more taxes to finance the budget, a review of FY2016/17 proposed budget presents a cocktail of views. The proposed budget at UGX. 26.3 trillion from 24 trillion in 2015/16 is a step in the right direction since Government is expected to check her spending given the huge debt that needs servicing. Government must also be applauded for its efforts that have seen the country take third place in budget transparency on the African continent, thanks to the civic education coupled with opening up spaces for constant citizen engagement and participation in the national budget processes at both local and national level.
FY 2016/17 budget priorities are aligned to Vision 2040 and the National Development Plan FY 2015/16 to FY 2019/20 which include: Enhancement of national security, Promotion of production and productivity through support to NAADS and value addition in the key growth sectors of the economy, Scientific research and innovation, Infrastructure development, Supporting wealth creation with special focus on the Youth and Women Entrepreneurship Programme and Microfinance and Raising the quality of social services to improve the general welfare of Ugandans.
Hon. Fred Omach Minister of State for General Duties MoFPED giving a key note address during the Pre-Budget Dialogue for FY 2016/17, March 2016.
One of the key sectors that is of interest to most Ugandans is agriculture, and rightly so for being the main driver of poverty reduction over the years; from 24.5% in 2009/2010 to 19.7% in 2012/2013 according to the 2014 Uganda Poverty Status Report. Government’s move to increase allocations to agriculture from 474 billion in FY 2015/16 to 794.63 billion in FY 2016/17 is, at face value a commendable move. However such increment should be directed towards strengthening the existing infrastructure including human resource and enforcing quality rather than quantity in the sector.
Part of Uganda’s debt portfolio is characterized by non-performance. UDN Report on Public Debt (2015, p.34) and 2015 Auditor General report raise issues relating to low absorption capacity since FY 2009/10 resulting from poor project management, procurement challenges and poor financial management among others. The AG Report further highlights the persistent challenge of low absorption of external debt indicating that, the national debt portfolio was still underperforming with absorption levels below 50%. With the proposed FY2016/17 budget, Ugandans expect public debt to be managed efficiently for purposes of economic growth.
Civil Society Organizations and General Public during the FY2016/17 Pre-Budget Dialogue, March 2016.
It is therefore a continual responsibility of all Ugandans to shrewdly monitor the utilization of budgeted resources and demand for prudent accountability and transparency in resource allocations and utilization for efficient service delivery.
Our Budget, Our Responsibility!