Policy stakeholders have asked government to rethink its development strategies in order to realize the much needed growth and redeem the increasing number of Ugandans falling into the poverty trap.

The call came during the debate on the linkage between the 2018/19 National Budget Framework Paper and Uganda’s National Development Plan (NDP 2), held at Imperial Royale hotel on February 1, 2018.

Dr. Sarah Ssewanyana, the Executive Director Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) on her opening speech implored government to implement both revenue generation and expenditure side measures to facilitate meeting budget targets and spending priorities.

She said that Uganda ought to rethink the role of the state by encouraging direct public investment not only in transport and energy infrastructure but also in industrialization for job creation and poverty reduction.

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She warned that while Uganda is a model in developing and implementing budget management institutions, a lot remains to be done to realize the expected budget outcomes.

Panel Reflections

Stephen Mukitale Birahwa, the Buliisa District Member of Parliament called for empowerment of cooperatives and private sector led growth. He also noted that the 2018/19-budget framework paper does not indicate financing that seeks to address the implications of draught.

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Prof. Julius Kiiza argued that with an incorruptible head of state, clean civil service and proper policy implementation, Uganda would achieve the much-anticipated growth. “We must rethink our strategy,” he said, adding that late President Obote with limited human and financial resources, achieved a lot in transforming Uganda.

Prof. Mwanbutsya Ndebesa in his part argued that 50 percent of the budget is borrowed with external and domestic borrowing representing 20 and 30 percent respectively. Domestic borrowing he said drives high the interest rates.

He advocated for borrowing to finance social infrastructure not necessarily roads and dams. “Financing research, industrial and knowledge development would give Uganda a competitive advantage to catch up with other nations,” he said.

The burden of financing mushrooming administrative units did not skip mention during the panel discussion. Hoima Municipality MP, Lawrence Bategeka said that decentralization does not improve service delivery but instead decentralizes corruption. This squared with Prof. Kiiza’s reflection that creating more districts is creating political jobs and further constraining Uganda’s budget.

Julius Mkunda Executive Director Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) noted that the budget absorption capacity is low and has remained a grey area. This he attributes to poor planning by government ministries, agencies and departments. 

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