Civil society Organizations have queried budgetary allocations for payment of domestic arrears, preparations for the Parish Development Model, and wealth creation activities for women and youth, among others, as inadequate.
According to Ministry of Finance records, the government owes its local suppliers and contractors an accumulated debt of almost 4.5 trillion Shillings. However, in the budget, the ministry plans to pay only 400 billion Shillings, or slightly less than 10 per cent of the total, which the civil society considers inadequate to solve the working capital needs of the private sector.
The CSOs include FOWODE, the Institute of Social Transformation (IST), Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) and the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG).
Emmanuel Kashaija, the Program Officer – Gender and Economic Justice at the Forum for Women in Democracy, FOWODE, blames the increase in domestic arrears on indiscipline among government officials and calls for punitive action against those who intentionally delay payments.
Kashaija says that whenever suppliers are not paid in the expected or agreed time, their capacity to develop or sustain business deteriorates. He told a CSO Dialogue on the 2022/23 national budget, that the government must strictly observe its own Charter of Fiscal Responsibility and the Public Finance Management Act to prevent the country from sinking into debt.
The government plans to borrow about 9 trillion Shillings next financial year bringing the total to more than 53 per cent of the GDP, which is above the government commitment, according to Kashaija.
The CSO leaders however hailed the funding for the implementation of the Parish Development Model, saying the plan is targeting the right groups for development; grassroots women, youth and other disadvantaged groups. But they are still concerned that too little money has been set aside to prepare the masses on how to benefit from the PDM.
The PDM has been allocated 1 trillion and 59 billion Shillings for operationalising it, including a revolving fund worth 100 million Shillings for each parish. The funding is to ensure that Uganda alleviates poverty
by improving household incomes and welfare through employment and wealth creation, especially targeting the 39 per cent of households still outside the money economy.
The government estimates that it will need about 17 billion Shillings to conduct mindset change programs that include awareness, sensitisation, skilling and organising the masses, among others, but that the Budget has provided only 1 billion Shillings.