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Civil society worried about national budget

Downtown Kampala

Downtown Kampala

he civil society has warned of several potential risks in the grotesque situation of starting a financial year without an approved national budget that Uganda is in now.

The warning came as Uganda started rolling out the 2024/2025 financial year from July 1. Julius Mukunda, the executive director of Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), presented these concerns at a media conference at CSBAG offices in Ntinda, Kampala on June 30, 2024.

CSBAG comprises many organisations, with a prime mission of advocating for a more transparent and people-centred budget. Mukunda said this is the first time in Uganda that a financial year starts without an approved national budget, and the first time an appropriation bill has been returned to parliament.

President Museveni recently returned the passed Appropriation Bill to parliament for reconsideration, in what betrays itself as a contest for power between the executive and the legislature over the overall budgeting process. Mukunda blamed this embarrassing situation on negligence and a power struggle between the legislature and the executive.

“This wouldn’t have happened if we had prepared well. These last-minute budget decisions, especially by the executive, and limited public participation in the budget consultations led to a corrigenda of Shs 14 trillion,” he said, adding, “The return of the bill resulted from a shocked public outcry because the public saw this as a budget for corruption where allocations were made selfishly for the narrow interests of politicians to get financial and political preservation.”

While stressing that the national interest should be the priority in the budgeting process so that the legislature and the executive work collaboratively, he said parliament should not reallocate any excess resources to the desires of its members.

“Otherwise, this leads to usurpation of powers of the executive, and loss of separation of powers,” Mukunda said.

During the State-of-the-Nation address on June 6, 2024, President Museveni said he has proof that ministry of Finance staff collude with accounting officers to give bribes to MPs to make favourable adjustments to their respective allocations. Earlier, during the 10th Parliament, Museveni complained that parliament was irregularly altering his budget, arguing that parliament’s sole role was to make recommendations about proposed allocations.

Mukunda observed that not only does the situation lead to a delay of implementation of programmes, it also worsens the recurrent problem of failure to absorb allocated funds. He explained how it will also lead to increased domestic borrowing and domestic arrears.

He argued that this is a cycle that will lead to inability of new suppliers to come on board, higher interest rates for the private sector and less ability by Uganda Revenue Authority to collect more revenue. Even externally, Uganda will get a downgrade from international credit rating agencies, which will portray the country as a high-risk borrower.

Although the law allows the president to draw money from the consolidated fund for four months using the vote on account, Mukunda said this is like giving the president a blank cheque because there is no operational law guiding the management of the vote on account.

“In addition, government has powers to acquire a supplementary of three per cent of the budget, which it can overstretch in these four months.”

He prayed that with the opportunity offered by the return of the bill, reason prevails so that the glaringly unnecessary expenditures such as salaries for cultural leaders, house rent for the principal judge and chief justice, land for an industrial park in Kibaale district, among others, get struck off.

Comments   

0 #1 Akot 2024-07-07 13:49
Uganda is not a country, but Rwandese Museveni's property, so there cannot be "national budget"!

True, Ugandans protect Rwandese Museveni with the divisive tribalistic system that disempowers them & fake elections, but this doesn't mean it's a country!

Ugandans, please WAKE UP & get second independence, NOW!
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