Opposition in Parliament Retreats to Draft Alternative National Budget

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Mpuuga said that it is the opposition's duty to deeply study the prepositions of the government, put some level of imagination and perspective on them and be able to produce alternatives.
Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga speaking to a section of Opposition MPs during their retreat.

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The Opposition in Parliament has decided to draft an alternative national budget contrary to the long-standing practice of responding to the government’s proposals tabled before parliament. Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of the Opposition revealed the move while opening a three-day retreat for members of the Shadow Cabinet at the Imperial Golf View Hotel, Entebbe.

The Opposition plans to develop an alternative national budget for the next financial year 2023/2024 during their retreat and their priorities will be unveiled to the country in April.

According to Mpuuga, the new opposition approach to the budgeting process is in line with their mandate of keeping the government in check and avoiding recycling proposals.

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This comes at a time when sectoral committees in parliament are scrutinizing budget estimates under the National Budget Framework Paper tabled before parliament by Finance Minister Matia Kasaija on December 23rd, 2023.

According to the Public Finance Management Act, parliament is expected to debate and approve the Budget Framework Paper by February 1st, 2023. Mpuuga said that it is the opposition's duty to deeply study the prepositions of the government, put some level of imagination and perspective on them and be able to produce alternatives.

“We are not supposed to clean up their mess, our job is to offer citizens a cleaner and better alternative," he said. Mpuuga emphasized that their mandate is to produce alternatives but not to support, clarify, and not in any way to recommend, and patch up government policies.

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The Nyendo-Mukungwe MP said that for the first time, they are going to have the Opposition Budget day to present to the country their perspectives on the utilization of the national envelope.

"You are aware, we have presented our views on the management, and mobilization of taxes. We presented our alternative charter of fiscal responsibility and this bears our consideration of how resources should be mobilized from where and how, including external resources,” Mpuuga explained.

He said that on the planned Opposition Budget day, different shadow ministers will make presentations to Ugandans. Mpuuga says that the opposition views presented in the past policy statements are so compressed that sometimes they are misunderstood, misconstrued, and misrepresented. 

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The proposed budget for the next financial year 2023/2024 was developed under program-based budgeting as per the National Development Programme (NDP III). The national budget for the next financial year 2023/2024 is projected at 49.98 trillion, compared to 48.13 trillion for the current financial year 2022/2023.

The proposed 49.98 trillion Shillings budget will be financed through domestic revenue equivalent to 28.83 trillion, budget support amounting to 2.491 trillion, domestic borrowing of 1.585 trillion, external project support worth 8.04 trillion, domestic refinancing of 8.798 trillion, and local revenue for local government (AIA) of 238.5 billion Shillings.

While presenting the estimates to the Budget Committee last week, Henry Musasizi, the Minister of State for Finance said that the budget was prepared in a challenging environment occasioned by global and national shocks, which include high inflation, tightening financial conditions in most regions, Russia-Ukraine Conflict, and the lingering negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that these challenges have resulted in a rise of public debt and its servicing costs and that to adapt to this environment, the projected discretionary resource envelope for the next Financial Year budget has been reduced by 2.54 trillion from 25.402 trillion in the current financial year 2022/2023 to 22.86 trillion.

With the reduced resource envelope, Musasizi said that the government has provided for key priorities including starting the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway and finalization of the rehabilitation of the Meter Gauge Railway under the Integrated Transport program (4.65 trillion); investing in small-scale solar powered irrigation as well as addressing climate change and food security under Agro Industrialization Programme (1.499 trillion) and others.

The other priorities are constructing power service stations and transmission lines under the Sustainable Energy Development program (1.2 trillion) and capitalization of Uganda Development Bank -UDB and Uganda Development Corporation- UDC to continue supporting private sector development, recovery, and economic transformation under the Private Sector Development (1.798 trillion).

The Budget theme has been maintained as “Full Monetization of the Ugandan Economy through Commercial Agriculture, Industrialization, Expanding and Broadening Services, Digital Transformation and, Market Access”.  

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