CSOs Hold Post Budget Dialogue 2016
By Lucky Brian Wamboka
On Thursday 16 June 2016, CSOs under the leadership of CSBAG held a Post Budget Dialogue at UMA Conference Hall. Following the National Budget speech read on 8th June 2016 for FY 2016/17, CSBAG in partnership with FRA, SEATINI, Trocaire, ESAFF, PELUM, UKaid, FOWODE, USAID, WaterAid and ISER organized a Post Budget Dialogue to convene citizens and assess Government performance in achieving quality service delivery in FY 2015/16 as well as interrogate the ability of the FY 2016/17 Government financing and expenditure options to effectively and efficiently enhance socio-economic transformation.
The event was attended by representatives from the Civil Society, Ministry of Finance, private sector, and media. Also to include development partners and farmers. To involve the public to share their views online, the first two sessions of the dialogue were broadcasted live on NTV Uganda and viewers were given an opportunity to contribute via the NTV twitter handle #UGBudget2016.
Noting that the National Budget is a tool that defines resource mobilization, resource allocation and resource utilization, these are aspects key concerns for the Non State Actors that need more consideration as they undertake advocacy activities. Upon this, CSBAG Coordinator Mr. Julius Mukunda in his remarks noted that CSBAG on behalf of CSOs has ably engaged the government vigorously and there have been some achievements like increase in the budget allocation for the Agricultural sector, influencing the president not to assent to the Income Tax Bill, engaged on the Public Finance Act and influenced the parliament. The government was able to open more space for CSOs to engage in the government processes and for the first time in history, Mr. Julius noted that CSOs were co-opted in all the regional consultations regarding the budget process.
However, some of the outstanding issues that CSOs need to consider and influence the government include advocating for: increased tax assessment, enforcement of tax payment and addressing tax evasion, strengthening performance contracts, minimized internal borrowing, effective cost public administration, awareness creation on who to hold responsible under the OWC regarding the distribution of fake inputs and minimized supplementary budgets which antagonize the whole budget process.
The key note speaker Mr. Fred Muhumuza presented that this year’s budget may not deliver basing on the concerns he raised on each of the sector performance for last FY2015/16. Under the Agricultural sector, productivity has declined due to inadequate support provided to farmers by the extensionists. He recommended that, “more funds need to be allocated to the sector to realize increased productivity in tea, coffee, fish and milk production.” Furthermore, the other key concern raised was about the establishment of the cooperative bank that was highlighted in the 2014/15 budget speech and it has never been put in place.
The Director Budget from the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Kenneth Mugambe highlighted that some of the challenges faced are lack of a proper post harvesting strategy to minimized post harvesting losses, corruption where a lot of money is lost along the procurement process although measure have been put in place like decentralizing supervision and monitoring of funds. One of the Member of Parliament present Hon. Komakech Andrew raised an issue that there is a serious logic about the budget saying it will be affected by the size of Cabinet which is not reflective of the revenue that Uganda intends to generate.
Mr. Julius Kapwepwe, the board chairperson, CSBAG while closing the dialogue recommended that CSOs should continue being consistent in their work and commended the government for the positive response towards their concerns. He pledged on behalf of CSBAG they will continue to encourage citizens at the local and also engage in local government forums and that the public will always be updated via online platforms. A bigger discussion is also to be opened on Non Tax Revenue to include money collected as penalty for road offenses and how it is spend.