In the current 2020/2021 budget, the Works and Transport docket took the lion’s share with an allocation of 5.84 trillion Shillings, followed by Security with an allocation of 4.5 trillion Shillings. Agriculture and Tourism are among the least funded sectors.
The Leader of Opposition (LOP) Betty Aol Ocan has
demanded that government invest more money in the country’s productive sectors
like Agriculture and Tourism in order to solve the unemployment and poverty.
Ocan today presented before Parliament the Opposition’s
alternative proposals to the coming financial year 2021/2022 budget.
In her statement, LOP Ocan said that although the country’s
economy is reported to be growing, the growth is not inclusive since it has not translated into jobs,
poverty reduction and wealth for Ugandans.
“We are concerned that the economy is now on a
rapid path of sustainable growth. However, the number of new jobs arising from
this growth has been disappointingly low. It is estimated that of the 700,000
individuals who enter the labor market each year only 100,000 find employment,”
Ocan recommended more investment in productive
sectors saying that these will create more jobs as compared to complementary
sectors like works and transport. She also said that more support should be
given to the private sector so as to overcome the economic effects of Covid-19
In the current 2020/2021 budget, the Works and Transport docket took the lion’s share with an
allocation of 5.84 trillion Shillings, followed by Security with an allocation
of 4.5 trillion Shillings. Agriculture and Tourism are among the least funded
The Leader of Opposition also called for the re-adjustment
of the budget ceiling since parliament established that the Central bank does
not need a recapitalization of 481 billion Shillings as earlier stated and demanded by the
Minister of Finance.
Speaking about external borrowing, Ocan said
that the increasing rate of borrowing is the country’s biggest burden and she
proposed that a public debt repayment schedule should be developed and
published to guide debt management.
The Opposition also wants the terms and
conditions of domestic borrowing to be tabled before Parliament and become
enforceable by a resolution. According to Ocan, government must not commit
loans that it is not intending to use in the near future.
She says that it sounds irregular for
taxpayers to pay for interest on loans that are idle.
A recent International Monetray Fund- IMF report raised a red
flag at Uganda's rate of borrowing warning that by 2022, the country's debt
would be unsustainable.
According to the Bank of Uganda (BoU) monetary
policy report for August 2020, the country's public debt increased by 20.5
percent from 46.2 trillion in June 2019 to 56.5 trillion in June 2020. The
increase in the public debt according to the report was attributed to
accumulation of interest on old debts and the many acquired new debts.
The Opposition in Parliament raised concern over the projected reduction in domestic revenue by 1
trillion Shillings despite an increment in (external) budget support funding by 755.4 billion
She recommended that for the country to boost
revenue collection by Local Governments, there should be increased allocation
of funds to Local Governments to undertake revenue assessment and registration
so that there is no more reliance on the Central Government collections.
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Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, said that for
proposals by the Leader of Opposition to be successfully captured in the budget
process, the Clerk to Parliament should extract the recommendations and forward
them to all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies that submit policy
statements to the House.
“Because policy statements are supposed to be in
this House by the 15th of this month and today is already 4th,
so time is of essence," Oulanya directed. "Clerk, extract these recommendations and forward them
straight to the MDAs so that they can look at them in the process of preparing
their Ministerial Policy Statements to be submitted to the House.”
Jack Wamai Wamanga, the Mbale Municipality MP questioned
whether the policy statements and alternatives previously offered by the Opposition
side in Parliament have ever been considered by government in the budget.
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Abdu Katuntu, the Bugweri County MP said that they
need some accountability on the part of government in regard to the extent the
Opposition views have been taken up. He says that this is one of the ways of
taking the budgeting process seriously.
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Ruth Nankabirwa, the Government Chief Whip assured
MPs that they have been accommodating some of the recommendations that
government thinks can be adopted. She said that this can be traced in the
different treasury memorandums government submits to Parliament.
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Oulanyah reiterated his earlier ruling saying that the
recommendations by the Opposition should be sent to the different Ministries for
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Henry Musasizi, the Finance Committee Chairperson noted
that the Opposition alternative statement should have come at a point when
Parliament was debating the Budget Framework Paper- BFP in January since the
PFMA, 2015 provides that the policy statements must be consistent with the BFP.
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David Bahati, the State Minister of Finance for
Planning also noted that the alternative by the Opposition should have come in January but he hastened to add that the recommendations would be discussed alongside the ministerial policy statements that are yet to be discussed by parliament.