National Physical Plan – an underfunded priority
On 16th December, 2015, in compliance with Sec 9(1) of the Public Finance and Management Act 2015, the Minister for Finance, Planning and Economic Development laid on table the National Budget Framework Paper (NBFP) for FY2016/17 – FY 2020/21. The paper projects the budget allocations to each sector over the medium term. It was referred to the Budget Committee for review and thereafter report back.
On 7th January, 2016, the committee reported back to the House highlighting a number of unfunded priorities in various Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs) right from FY2015/16, now to FY2015/16.
The unfunded and underfunded priorities were indeed many, but I will concentrate on only one. The Development of the National Physical Plan by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development. This is not the first time the Budget committee and Parliament is identifying the need to fund this activity. For over the years, Parliament has been recommending for the need by Government to fund this critical priority.
A National Physical Plan is a detailed layout of the set standards and guidelines for the physical development framework of the country. It must be compatible to the country’s socio-economic aspiration of the citizens. It entails suitable land planning for viable agriculture, better and affordable housing, transport, industrialization as well as respect to the ecological integrity.
During the budget process for the FY2015/16, Parliament directed Hon. Matia Kasaijja, Minister for Finance, Planning and Economic Development to avail UGX 4.5bn for the development of a National Physical Plan. However, the minister committed himself that the activity will be among those to constitute the first call on the budget for FY2016/17. In the Draft Budget Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for FY2016/17, no money had been allocated. Only to be considered in the Corrigenda schedule. But still the Ugx 3bn being allocated is less of the required amount.
The absence of this plan best explains the haphazard erection of buildings and poor planning in most urban centres of the country. This implies that a big number of the buildings being put up now are potential candidates for demolition in future to pave way for well planned development projects.
This will necessitate huge expenditure in terms of compensation to property owners. We have so far spent UGX 280bn in compensation for the buildings that were demolished to give way for the construction of the Kampala-Enteebe Express Highway. About UGX 80bn was spent on compensation while extending the Northern by-pass from Namboole to Natete. A number of express highways like Jinja-Kampala; Kamapala-Mpigi are in the pipeline; the Standard Gauge Railway and the Oil pipe line are on board. I can’t imagine the size of the compensation component in these projects.
The usual excuse given by government of the small national resource envelope that cannot facilitate all the country’s necessities can only suffice for big projects but for this one. I find it baseless and not profound.