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Newly Created Town Councils, Sub Counties Furious After Missing Out On Q2 Finances

Last week, the Ministry of Finance, released a total of 5.8 trillion Shillings to facilitate government institutions in the second quarter of the year, covering the months of October, November and December 2021. Luwero district received 15.4 billion Shillings to cater for wages and development programmes among other activities during the same period.
File Photo ; Minister Rapheal Magyezi after closing a special general meeting of Urban Authorities Association of Uganda at Nimrod Hotel in Luweero town last year
The Local Leaders of newly created town councils in Luwero district are furious after the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development failed to release funds to run their activities in the second quarter of the financial year.

Local Government Minister Raphael Magezi had promised that the government would provide funds for the operationalization of the administrative units in the financial year 2021/22. There were high hopes among LC III Chairpersons and councils that the new administrative units would be funded during this quarter, after missing out on the first release.

Last week, the Ministry of Finance, released a total of 5.8 trillion Shillings to facilitate government institutions in the second quarter of the year, covering the months of October, November and December 2021. Luwero district received 15.4 billion Shillings to cater for wages and development programmes among other activities during the same period.

However, the Ministry of Finance released no single coin towards the operations of the new town councils in the district which include Kamira, Ndejje, Busiika, Zirobwe and Kikyusa. The town councils came into force in January 2020.

Pascal Imarachi, the LC III Chairperson of Zirobwe Town Council says that they were hopeful that the government was to fund their activities this financial year after they were democratically elected and sworn in as leaders. He said that although they are already occupying offices, there is nothing they can do without funding.

Imarachi added that even the little revenue that is collected is banked on District General Fund Account and forwarded to National Treasury before they apply for it. “We are tired. The government must tell us to close the new town councils if they don’t want to fund their activities,” Imarachi said.

Paul Salabwa, the LC III Chairperson of Kikyusa Town Council said that due to lack of funding, he is currently digging into his pocket to fund office work for the town council. He adds that all other services and planned activities have stalled citing a plan to open up roads and construct schools in the communities.

“I am currently paying for town council office rent and I gave out my private conference hall to host meetings for councillors. The government should come to our rescue and consider the town council for funding” Salabwa said

Kikyusa Town Council has so far collected 12.6 million Shillings in local revenue since the financial year began in the month of July 2021. The town has been able to successfully secure only 4.2 out of 12.6 million Shillings back from local revenue deposits to execute government work.

Edward Ssenyonjo, the LCIII Chairman of Kamira Town Council says that he has resorted to community service, mobilizing residents to address demands like road opening after failing to get funding.

“We are under pressure from residents who voted for us because they don’t see anything we are doing since we came into office. The government approved the town councils and it must fund them to enable us to extend services to the people...,” Ssenyonjo said.

Elizabeth Namanda, the Luwero District Chief Administrative Officer acknowledged the challenges but said they have no budget or releases towards the activities of the newly created town councils. Namanda added that she is also waiting for the Ministry of Finance to consider funding the town councils but hastened to add that the government allowed them to pay salaries to the LCIII Chairpersons.

Efforts to reach Matia Kasaija the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development on funding of the new town councils and sub-counties were unsuccessful. But in his budget circular dated September 15,  2021, to accounting officers of Local Governments, Ramathan Ggoobi, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance said that operationalization of newly created town councils and sub-counties remain halted.

Ggoobi directed the district accounting officers not to plan to allocate resources to newly created town councils and sub-counties until funds are made available or advised otherwise. He also directed accounting officers to maintain boundaries of new sub-counties and town councils under the previous mother sub-counties.

Ggoobi also informed them that the Performance Budgeting System (PBS) has been locked not to allow entry of new administrative units and will be opened when funds are available to operationalize the town councils or sub-counties. The directives affect 364 sub-counties and 352 town councils which recently were created in different parts of the country.