Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Julius Businge | Expenditure for the new budget should mainly focus on key sectors that must support revamping of the economy, according to civil society organisations under their umbrella group, Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG).
In a joint statement dated April 20, the group says that critical areas of focus in FY2020/21 should among others include, investing in health systems strengthening to guarantee Ugandans equal access to affordable and quality health services for all, increasing access to clean and safe water, sanitation and hygiene, investing in agriculture production and productivity for income generation and guaranteeing food security, boosting investment and trade.
The CSOs say that once this is well designed and implemented, it will help deal with the negative effects caused by COVID-19 pandemic that has forced government to enforce a countrywide lockdown. A total of 63 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Uganda as of April 22 with no death case reported. Total COVID-19 recoveries stand at 45 as of today – April 23.
“We do reiterate our voice, and call on Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies to re-examine their priorities for FY2020/21 budget. This can be achieved by channeling more funding away from consumptive expenditures to those areas with potential to generate high returns to economic growth and protection of the population,” the group further explains.
The budget for FY2020/21 is projected to increase from Shs41trillion in FY2019/20 to Shs44.69 trillion in FY2020/21.
To address some of the challenges that government may face during the new FY, the group says that authorities will have to effectively implement the Domestic Revenue Mobilization Strategy, 2019/20 – 2023/24 to boost domestic revenue collection.
In addition, the group says critical research on new tax policies, their effectiveness and implication on citizens need to be undertaken before a tax is imposed to ensure that the tax base will increase and will be stable.
The FY2020/21 budget will be implemented when the country and the globe are dealing with the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially on the economy.
Experts say that it is prudent for government to adopt austerity measures to effectively utilize the limited public resources to boost economic activity.
Meanwhile, CSBAG say they are concerned that the government has not clearly come out to explain how it intends to address aspirations under NDPIII and effects of the COVID19 pandemic as a review of the FY2020/21 Ministerial Policy Statements, reveals the budget structure has remained virtually the same only reflecting increases for the usual budget items.
Furthermore, they say, the expenditures on consumptive items are just increasing despite government resolve to cut wasteful expenditures.
The government has mooted ideas to ensure that Local Government fully participate in the development agenda. To achieve this, the first and second Budget Call Circulars, tasked Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) with funds for local Governments to budget for them under local Government votes.
However, CSBAG says there is no evidence in the Draft Budget that such a policy directive was implemented despite the COVD19 response showing the critical role a strengthened decentralized governance can play.
Going forward, the group applauds the health workers who are at the fore front in the fight against this pandemic and the government’s efforts to cushion the country from the impact of the COVID-19.
“We urge government to adopt stringent austerity measures especially in the post COVID-19 to fasten the quick recovery