“I want to ensure this gathering that, we have always done our best to ensure that monies that are supposed to go to Local Governments actually go. As Parliament, we put recommendations in place but we are not an enforcing body. When we make policies and the executive doesn’t implement, sometimes we are limited. In handling these issues, the body that Ugandans should hold responsible for failing decentralization is the Ministry of Finance.” Chairperson of the Committee on Public Service and Local Government and Aringa North MP Hon. Godfrey Onzima made these remarks while responding to journalist Solomon Ssserwanja’s accusations towards Parliament for failing to enforce extension of monies to Local Governments.
This was on Thursday 16th May 2019 during a breakfast meeting at Kampala Serena Hotel organized by Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) presenting an Analysis report on the proposed FY 2019/20 Budget Allocations towards Local Governments (LGs). The report indicated that of 38.95 trillion shillings (9.2% of the total budget) which was allocated to Local Government programs, over a trillion shillings was allocated and held by Ministries. Departments and Agencies (MDAs) thus failing Local Government programs.
Further defending Parliament on the improper allocations, Hon. Suzan Amero, Amuria District Woman MP condemned multi-party democracy for failing Parliament operations. She elucidated that some party members drop the needs and interests of their constituents and concentrate on promoting caucus ideologies. Amero added that the monies held by Ministries benefit a few individuals and also pointed out the tendency of Ministries sending monies to Local Government at a later time when they can’t spend it thus sending it back to the consolidated account.
Hon. Johnson Muyanja, Mukono County South MP, raised concern on the incapability of Local Governments to carry out oversight that has resulted into extensive swindling of even the little money received and failure to execute the required duties. He recommended setting of academic qualifications for chairpersons including Sub County and Town council chairs as a strategy of ensuring oversight and proper utilization of the allocated funds.
Shielding Local Governments, Hon. Rapheal Magyezi, Igara County West MP, opposed Muyanja’s claims pronouncing that the incapability of chairpersons to carry out oversight and swindling of funds can’t be presented as justifications for allocation of inadequate funds to local Governments. He alleged that monies held by Ministries are mismanaged labeling them perpetual swindlers of Government funds. Magyezi commended Local Government for the services and explained that most of Uganda’s achievements are through local governments. He pointed out the unfairness in allocation of funds saying that the Central Government is occasionally given funds ten times more than Local Governments to execute equivalent tasks.
Hon. Bamukwasa Betty condemned the act of holding Local Government monies by the Ministries and urged Members of Parliament (MPs) to present the recommendations of the report on the floor of the House. The recommendations are;
- Reallocation of UGX 1.01 trillion which was allocated to various MDAs which was supposed to be allocated to LGs as mandated under the second schedule of the Local Government Act (LGA) CAP 243.
- Rationalize 530.2 billion budgeted by various MDAs on certain expenditures to free funds for local government.
- Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) to work with the sector ministries to establish the unit cost of delivery delegated services at LGs in order to facilitate proper planning and resource allocation.
- The current projects and other sector grant disbursements made directly to LGs should be integrated into the formal grant system in a transparent and equitable manner.
- Implement the Fiscal Decentralization strategy to reduce the number of grants and evolve the system in a manner that will ensure consistency, autonomy, predictability, and adequacy to meet the minimum costs of service delivery by LGs.
- Government transfers should be calculated using a transparent formula that takes into account the variables considered relevant to Local Government service delivery mandate.
- LGs to be represented in negotiations with development partners when negotiating external assistance that is intended to support the decentralized services.
- The Public Finance Management Act, 2015 be amended to require the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) to provide a separate medium-term financing plan for Local Government service delivery along with the national medium-term expenditure plan and submit them to Parliament for approval.