Special Reports

Outrage As Service Delivery At Local Gov't Deteriorates

Adolf Mwesige

for sale http://cutteraviation.com/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/modules/post-by-email.php geneva; font-size: small;”>As the national budget day closes in, medical http://cirnow.com.au/wp-admin/includes/class-wp-comments-list-table.php more pessimism has been manifested on whether or not this year’s financial allocations to local governments will have any positive impacts on the lives of targeted people at the grass root.

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order http://chemistsown.com.au/wp-admin/includes/class-wp-theme-install-list-table.php geneva;”>Over the last years, Uganda has been engulfed in an array of large scale corruption scandals where billions of shillings geared to development of peripheral areas have disappeared in thin air, yet investigations to locate and apprehend culprits are yet to bear much fruit.

In Thursday’s State of nation address where president Museveni referred to himself as the “corruption expert”, he promised to come up with an independent address on corruption as a subject of its own.

He also assured Ugandans that the NRM government has fought bigger battles than chasing of mere thieves of government funds.

Nonetheless, speaking on Friday at a stakeholders’ dialogue on Uganda’s decentralization policy in Kampala, DENIVA’s executive director, Justus Rugambwa attributed the corruption on Museveni’s relentless disintegration of local governments.

He noted that even though the creation of new districts has of late been halted by government, it will soon commence in a year or two as the 2016 polls close in.

Rugambwa stressed that multiplication of new districts has got nothing to do with betterment of service delivery to the people but only to create jobs for a few pro-government individuals.

He further noted that local governments have been eluded of their original purpose of establishment as government continues to strip districts of their political and economic powers.

“Districts no longer have their original taxation powers. Any lucrative economic activity that comes up, URA jumps in, collects all revenues in taxes and carries them to central government coffers where thieves await to plunder; implying that the tax payer does not get his deserved feedback in form of services.”

He gave an example of Bundibugyo district that remains hugely underdeveloped.

“Bundibugyo is a very rich district with over 10 cocoa plants and a range of other economic activities. If government was to allow them collect and manage their own revenues according to their local needs, their income per capita would now be exceeding $8000, which is above that of any other middle income country.”

Rugambwa also pointed out the delayed funding from government as another challenge that deserves immediate attention.

“Districts are faced with recurring delayed remittances of funds, occasioning refund of unspent funds at the end of every financial year,” he said.

It also emerged in the dialogue that in Kisoro district which weeks ago was experiencing acute water shortages, erupting into mild public demonstrations, about sh320 million had just been refunded back to government as unutilized funds.

POOR LEADERSHIP

Meanwhile, city lawyer Nicholas Opio, of the Uganda Law society, blamed all the mess at local government on poor leadership.

He highlighted a number of district councilors who cannot express themselves in English including some at the KCCA, who he said were not able to read and appreciate a government development plan, let alone formulating one.

Ordinary people were also blamed for not holding responsible of their leaders when service delivery goes wrong.

In 2009, Wakiso district chairman Ian Kyeyune was cornered and showered with buckets of dust by angry residents in protest of a dusty road that was under construction.

However, such stern concerted confrontations against inapt leaders have not been a common scene of late according to Rugambwa, thanks to the growing number of NGOs.

He noted: “Today there is a wide proliferation of NGO’s and CSO’s which are supplementing government by providing basic services in core sectors like health and education, thereby creating a comfort zone for people, who in turn do not bother holding their leaders accountable of missing services.”

The dialogue was organized by the Council of African policy, running under the theme: “20 years of Uganda’s decentralization: Stocktaking impact, challenges and progress.”

RING FENCE FUNDS

The Speaker of Parliament Hon. Rebecca Kadaga recently called for the ring fencing of funds meant for the districts.

The Speaker made these remarks at the Parliamentary Public Outreach Programme for the North Eastern region held at Leslona Hotel in Moroto on April 26.

Hon. Kadaga expressed disappointment that at the end of the financial year, funds which have been unutilised at the districts are sent back to the Consolidated Fund account.

“It is very annoying that funds are not used and at the end of the financial year sent back to the centre. This disrupts work in the local governments and I think this money should be kept by the districts,” she said.

The Speaker revealed that the Parliamentary Committee on Finance, Planning and Economic Development is working on a proposal that will see these funds retained by the local governments for utilisation in the following financial years.

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