Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group – CSBAG has called for the halting of the nationwide roll-out of the Parish Development Model, saying that the country is not ready to implement the project.
Last year, Uganda’s Cabinet approved the implementation of the Parish Development Model as a delivery strategy for transitioning households out of the subsistence to income economy.
In the coming financial year 2022/2023, the government has allocated 465 billion Shillings for the Parish Development Model.
However, some entities of government have since complained that a number of activities to help in the implementation of the model remain unfunded. For example, Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister of Information Communication Technology and National Guidance recently requested Parliament’s Committee on ICT for 70.6 billion Shillings to implement the Model through developing a community information system.
Under the Model, the ICT Ministry is charged with the responsibility of spearheading Pillar 5 of the model that deals with ‘Community data’. This involves setting up the Parish Development Management Information System (PDMIS) to validate information on the beneficiaries, evaluate the livelihood and standards of living of people and track the progress and performance of the different pillars so as to report real-time implementation of the programme.
President Yoweri Museveni told MPs last year that government plans to allocate sh100 million to every parish for the implementation of the Parish Development Model and this would require a total of sh1 trillion budgetary allocation for the 10,595 parishes.
Now, while appearing before Parliament’s Budget Committee on Friday, Julius Mukunda, the Executive Director CSBAG told MPs that although the Model is a good idea, Uganda is not yet ready to implement it. Mukunda says that there are still a number of issues that need to be streamlined like availability and training of the parish chiefs.
Mukunda who appeared before the committee to present a position paper on the National Budget Framework Paper for next financial year, 2022/2023, warned that Uganda risks losing a lot of funds if the money is sent to parishes when not ready.
He suggested that the Parish Development Model is instead piloted in a few districts, as government organizes itself to implement the program fully.
These statements followed an inquiry by the Budget Committee Vice Chairperson, Ignatius Wamakuyu who asked for CSBAG’s opinion on the readiness of Parish Development Model roll out.
Wamakuyu’s committee recently noted that it would recommend for more funding to the Model to ensure its smooth implementation.
Meanwhile, the CSBAG also proposed to the Budget Committee for an enactment of a law providing for a standard government price list for goods and services in order to improve value for money and equitable distribution of services in the country and also reduce corruption.
“The public sector accounts for a large share of public expenditure with over 50% of the national budget being expended through public procurement,” said Mukunda.”However, we note that unit costs within government Ministries, Departments and Agencies – MDAs and Local Governments vary yet the quality and standards are in most cases the same.”
He added that there is also a lack of enforcement of the national standards for procurement of goods and services which leads to more wastage of government resources and low-quality assurance.
Mukunda proposed that parliament demands for an annual National pricelist from the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets -PPDA that should regularly be updated, audited and enforced by government. He also proposed a National Standards Compliance Report from all accounting officers on an annual basis.
Also proposed by CSBAG is a requirement by parliament for approved strategic plans from MDAs and Local Governments to facilitate planning and budgeting.
“In line with the National Development Plan III, all MDAs and Local Governments are expected to submit strategic plans to National Planning Authority and have them approved,”said Mukunda. “However, as we get into the third year of implementation, only 81 MDAs have submitted and had approved, 16 have submitted but are not yet approved, 10 are submitted and under review, while 61 strategic plans are not yet even submitted, which affects the foundation of planning and budgeting.”
He said that the lack of approved strategic plans hampers the efforts of the NDP III to increase coordination and harmonization among programs, create better linkage of resources to results and reduce ‘silo’ approach to implementation across stakeholders and programs.
Wilfred Niwagaba, the Ndorwa East MP welcomed the proposal by CSBAG saying that budgets for the 61 MDAs that have not yet submitted strategic plans should not be considered.
The Civil Society Group also recommended to MPs that accounting officers who perpetually request for supplementary budgets due to poor planning be relieved of their duties since the act undermines the credibility of the annual planning and budgeting cycle and drawing resources away from critical national development priorities.
This financial year 2021/2022, the total supplementary budget amounts to 3.819 trillion Shillings, so far.