CSOs Ask Gov’t to Gear Budget Framework Towards Accelerating Economic Recovery
Under the umbrella of their coalition, the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), civil society organizations have urged the government to make sure that the National Budget Framework Paper (NBFP) is designed to hasten Ugandans’ economic recovery and social transformation.
In accordance with Section 9(3) of the Public Finance Management Act of 2015, the government submitted the NBFP for the Financial Year 2023–24 in December 2022 through the Ministry of Finance (Amended).
The resource envelope is anticipated to rise to UGX 49.9 trillion in FY 2023/24 from UGX 48 trillion in FY 2022/23.
Integrated Transport Infrastructure & Services Program is anticipated to receive UGX 4,656.49 billion (9.3%), Human Capital Development Program will receive UGX 9,005.61 billion (18.0%), and Governance and Security Program will receive UGX 6,824.89 billion (13.7%). Agro Industrialization will receive UGX 1,499.33 billion (3%).
Budget Policy Specialist CSBAG Patrick Rubangakane estimates that as of June 2021, the public debt stock’s proportion of GDP had risen from 46.90 percent (or US$ 19.54 billion) to 48.4 percent (or US$ 20.99 billion) in June 2022.
He claims that part of the reason for this is Uganda’s preference for borrowing under non-concessional conditions, which eventually raises borrowing costs and the high cost of debt servicing while reducing discretionary spending.
He urged the government to limit non-concessional loan borrowing and guarantee responsible debt management. For instance, money should only be granted for financially and economically sound public investment projects.
Additionally, he made a point of expressing concern over the significant budget cuts affecting the delivery of services to the most vulnerable, which are likely to have an impact on the execution of crucial interventions for these groups.
In order to achieve economic recovery, Rubangakene urged the government to reevaluate the budget cuts and put more emphasis on providing services to vulnerable people.
Action Against Hunger’s Advocacy and Communication Coordinator, Mariam Akiror, expressed worry about the suggested budget cuts to the departments within programs that are essential to boosting food production and productivity.
She provided a list of many organizations, including the Uganda National Bureau of Standards, whose budget is anticipated to drop from UGX 1,110 billion in FY2022/23 to UGX 940 million in FY2023/24.
Budgetary projections indicate that local government spending will fall from UGX 245.49 billion in FY2022/23 to UGX 120.73 billion in FY2023/24. Budget reduction is anticipated for the storage, agroprocessing, and value addition subprogram, which will go from UGX 62.120 billion in FY2022/23 to UGX 25.812 billion in FY2023/24.
According to Akiror, for a population to be secure in their access to food, the government must make direct, strategic investments in areas such as agricultural extension services, post-harvest handling, standards improvement, and smallholder farmers’ access to financing at reasonable rates.
She adds that it also needs to finalize the National Irrigation Master Plan, and the National Agriculture Extension Strategy (NAES), to support interventions geared towards securing land ownership rights for women who play a key role in Uganda’s agricultural productivity and food production.
“CSOs commend the Government on the measures taken to revamp the economy that has resulted in the growth of private sector credit by 0.4% between November and December 2022, trade balance improvements and retaining the stability of the Uganda Shilling relatively against the dollar during the three months to November 2022 which appreciated by 1.6.2,” Rubangakene said.