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CSOs Ask Gov’t to Allocate Funds for Emergencies in 2021/2022 Budget

The CSOs argue that even after suffering the locust invasion, severe floods, landslides and an on-going global pandemic that has killed over 300 Ugandans, the government has in the 2021/2022 Budget Framework paper not allocated any funds to address emergencies that might emerge.
 Civil Society Organizations have asked the government to allocate money to the Contingency Fund in the 2021/2022 financial budget.

The organizations that include; the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), Oxfam, Institute for Social and Economic Rights(ISER), Food Rights Alliance (FRA), and the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) say government seems to have learnt nothing from 2020.

They argue that even after suffering the locust invasion, severe floods, landslides and an on-going global pandemic that has killed over 300 Ugandans, the government has in the 2021/2022 Budget Framework paper not allocated any funds to address emergencies that might emerge.

According to 2015, Public Finance and Management Act, the government is mandated to set aside 3.5 percent of the appropriated annual budget of the previous financial year as part of the contingency fund.

As such, in the 2019/2020 national budget, 1.4 trillion shillings should have been allocated to the contingency fund and in the 2020/2021 government should have set aside 1.5 trillion shillings.

Julius Mukunda, the Executive Director of CSBAG says that it seems even after being hit by floods, a locust invasion and the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has not allocated any funds to the Contingencies Funds as mandated. 

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The Contingencies Fund Act,1962 provides for the establishment of a fund that will be used to meet the expenditures of urgent and unforeseen matters that have not been budgeted for.  

Instead of relying on the Contingencies Fund, the government resorted to passing supplementary budgets. In June 2020 parliament passed a supplementary budget where 1 Trillion Shillings was allocated to handle COVID-19 interventions. The funds were supposed to cater to the procurement of facial masks, test kits, laboratory consumables, personal protective equipment (PPE) and also recruit more health workers.

Mukunda says the government cannot rely on supplementary budgets to always handle emergencies. He says the habit of not planning gives room for abuse of the supplementary budgets. 

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Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health says that the government needs to plan for unseen events like COVID-19. She says more money needs to be allocated to the contingency funds.  

“In light of what happened last year where the entire world was affected by a pandemic that did not advertise itself before it struck, I think the government needs to plan better for emergencies,” Dr Atwine said.  

According to Atwine, they have made their concerns regarding emergency funding to the ministry of finance and hope they shall be considered.