FIRST LADY ASKS FINANCE MINISTRY TO DOCUMENT FLOW OF FUNDS INTO THE EDUCATION SECTOR
The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Mrs. Janet Museveni has asked the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to ensure that all money given to the Ministry of Education both at the Centre and in Local Governments from whatever source is documented to ensure transparency and proper accountability.
“Whoever brings money into the country, in the names of Uganda’s education, we must know how much and for what. It should be documented and accounted for,” Mrs. Museveni said on Thursday at Igongo Cultural Center and Country Hotel Mbarara, while addressing a two-day budget consultative meeting for Financial year 2018/2019. The meeting was attended by LC5 Chairpersons, Residential District Commissioners (RDCs), Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) and representatives of Civil Society Organizations from nine Local Governments in the Western Region including Mbarara, Isingiro, Kiruhura, Ntungamo, Ibanda, and Kamwenge Districts plus Mbarara, Ibanda and Ntungamo Municipalities.
Mrs. Museveni noted that certain money which she referred to as ‘off- budget’, for example comes into the Ministries without the knowledge of leaders and is only privy to a few people in the Ministries. “How then do we ensure effective supervision and accountability for it since it is not apportioned by parliament during the budget process”, she asked.
The First Lady commended the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development for conducting the regional budget consultative meetings across the country, saying such meetings empower district leaders and ministers among other stakeholders with information about the budget process.
“We need to understand the budget more because that is what makes our work happen. To head a Ministry, you have to understand, why some things take forever to happen,” Mrs. Museveni said.
While closing the workshop on Friday, Mrs. Museveni said the NRM Government’s policy of decentralizing power from the Centre to the Local Governments was a smart idea that has enabled service delivery to be closer to the people.
She urged the Local Government leaders to be innovative and think outside the box instead of always waiting and blaming the Central Government for inadequate funding.
“If Local Governments knew that they are the windows of Uganda to bring in fresh air and create wealth because our families live on the land and there is so much potential that has remained just potential, the Local Governments would not be waiting from the Central Government for deserved revenue. That is a mindset that has crippled Africa for centuries, because we believe we must wait until everything we need on our plates gets served to us otherwise we can’t help ourselves”, she said.
She encouraged the local leaders to go back to their respective Districts and stand for the wealth creation exercise to open up the potential of productivity of the communities and also ensure that men who are dying of alcohol wake up to the fact that they have a responsibility of being heads of families instead of leaving women to struggle alone. “Put up by-laws that close bars during working hours and ensure men stand up to their responsibility so that the Central Government can be liberated to concentrate on heavy investments like infrastructure development”.
She also spoke against the culture of labelling parts of the country hard to reach and hard to live.
The State Minister of finance for planning Hon David Bahati noted that the majority of households in Uganda obtain their livelihood from subsistence farming and encouraged the local leaders to play their role in transforming the country from the predominantly peasantry society to a modern and prosperous country by 2040.
Hon. Bahati noted that during the FY2018/2019, the government would focus on boosting the agricultural and industrialization sectors for economic growth. “The bulky of our population is engaged in agriculture production, poverty levels have increased so our focus next financial year will be on agriculture,” he said.
He also assured that the government is committed to revising the pay for all civil servants for effective service delivery.
Some of the issues raised by the leaders from the nine Local Governments for consideration in FY2018/2019 include, low levels of staffing especially in the education and health sectors, issues of climate change, HIV prevalence, inadequate funding for the frontline services like education, health and water, inadequate transport facilities, the high population growth and ensuring that all resources are included in the budget for enhanced transparency and accountability, as the cross-cutting issues.
These and many other sector-specific recommendations will enrich the budget strategy for the FY2018/2019 that feeds into the national Budget Framework Paper, which will be presented in Cabinet and Parliament for further consideration.
Some of the leaders appealed to government to establish a district quarter employment system for the many graduates who lack jobs despite obtaining degrees and master degrees.