Na­tional Phys­i­cal Plan – an un­der­funded pri­or­ity

By: Parliament Reporter

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.