By Matilda Nakawungu
When it comes to appropriation and monitoring of national funds, Civil Society Organisations can play a key role in ensuring government transparency and accountability. With dedicated effort, these players can help to inform decision-making processes with research and evidence.
Civil Society Organizations’ efforts towards evidence-based advocacy have in the past been hampered by their limited capacity to interpret and analyze the National Budget which is the primary implementation policy. This has greatly affected the quality of their engagement. To remedy this, CSO need to enhance their skills to effectively monitor and track budget absorption and performance, in order to constructively engage other stakeholders beyond the budget making process.
Realizing the potential impact and significance of civic initiatives in enhancing budget transparency and determining government expenditure priorities, Food Rights Alliance with funding from Trust Africa on 5th and 6th November conducted a Non-state actors training on Budget Tracking and Analysis with specific interest in agricultural extension and advisory services.
With this enhanced capacity to actively participate in the national budgeting process comes an increase in budget awareness and literacy. This will in turn be reflected in deeper engagement in the budget process and an improvement in the transparency of budgetary decisions. Participants left the training in position to constructively engage other stakeholders at all levels on issues of budget allocation, utilization, and improved accountability for the benefit of smallholder farmers in Uganda.
It is important to note that If CSOs and other Non-state actors can work together in the budgeting process, we can realise greater equity in budget policies. This joint effort will also strengthen democracy by fostering accountability, enhancing transparency and deepening participation and voice of citizens.
An inclusive and participatory budgeting process is important. However, for transparency in this process, Government has to provide the public access to budget information and opportunities to participate in the budget process at the national level. Open budgets allow the public to be the judge of whether or not their government officials are good stewards of public funds and, because they reduce opportunities for wasteful or corrupt spending, transparent and accountable budgets can increase the resources available to fight poverty. Non-state actors need to understand the increasingly important role they can play in analyzing government budget policies and in advocating for more transparent and inclusive budget processes.