Gov’t Criticized for ‘Poor Priorities’ in New Budget

Godfrey Ssali the Policy Analyst and Advocacy Officer at Uganda Manufacturers Association (L), Julius Mukunda the CSBAG Coordinator (C) and Dr Asuman Gulooba of National Planning Authority during the dialogue on Thursday

A week after reading of the budget for the 2016/17 financial year budget, page there’s continued mixed reactions from sections of the public, sickness private sector, unhealthy the opposition as well as civil society on its implications to the country’s socio-economic transformation.

While there have been slight increments in sector allocations compared to the previous financial year, issues regarding growing reliance on foreign loans, priorities and poor implementation continue to dominate the debate.

Manufacturers on Thursday expressed discontent over the continued importation of manufactured goods that would otherwise be produced here.

Speaking during the dialogue organized by Civil Society Budget Allocation Group (CSBAG), Godfrey Ssali the Policy Analyst and Advocacy Officer at Uganda Manufacturers Association said that government still lacks the will to efficiently utilize public resources.

“The budget has been read but we need to begin seeing government walking the talk. We can’t still be at a level where we are importing hoes to distribute to farmers, scholastic materials and uniform for the army. All these things can be produced locally,” Ssali said during the dialogue held at UMA Hall.

Ssali also criticized the move to increase the size of government; Cabinet and Members of Parliament which he said indicates lack of a will to deliver services to Ugandans.

He pleaded for the recapitalization of the Uganda Development Bank so as to support the local industry. “Private companies like Roofings should be using locally generated tax revenue other than going to foreign banks for loans,” he added.

On his part, Dr Asuman Gulooba of National Planning Authority said that the new budget is far from realizing the national vision of middle income status by 2020 due to wrong priorities.

“Many sectors and MDAs (Ministries, Departments and Government Agencies) still don’t have strategic plans while others are not consistent with the National Development Plan II. Out of 17 sectors, only 8 have developed strategic plans and of these, only 4 were coherent with our plan.”

He hinted on Uganda’s high domestic borrowing and a very low tax to GDP ratio compared to regional counterparts like Kenya stressing the need for URA to increase compliance in tax payment.

Kenneth Mugambe the Director of Budgeting in the Ministry of Finance who represented government blamed accounting officers for poor planning and making requests for supplementary allocations for their own selfish motives.

He however mentioned that government has cleaned up 90% of the payroll to reduce salary related supplementaries.

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