“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;

  1. 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.
  2. Ra­tio­nal­ize 530.2 bil­lion bud­geted by var­i­ous MDAs on cer­tain ex­pen­di­tures to free funds for lo­cal gov­ern­ment.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Gov­ern­ment trans­fers should be cal­cu­lated us­ing a trans­par­ent for­mula that takes into ac­count the vari­ables con­sid­ered rel­e­vant to Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment ser­vice de­liv­ery man­date.
  7. LGs to be rep­re­sented in ne­go­ti­a­tions with de­vel­op­ment part­ners when ne­go­ti­at­ing ex­ter­nal as­sis­tance that is in­tended to sup­port the de­cen­tral­ized ser­vices.
  8. 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.