By Moses Mulondo
Parliament has only up to Friday this week to complete the process of scrutinizing and approving the 2015/2016 budget which government has proposed.
The new Public Finance Management Act which was assented to this year in February requires parliament to approve the budget before the end of May.
In the old Act, parliament was required to complete the budgeting process before the end of August and this caused delays of implementing budget.
Following the new budget timetable, government will for the first time read the budget in June after parliament approval and this will enable government agencies utilize funds allocated to them at the beginning of the financial year in July.
Since the month of May ends on Sunday, the deputy speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, last Thursday appealed to the MPs to ensure by Friday this week the process is completed as the law requires.
The draft budget for the next financial year is 18.4% out of which the works and transport sector will get the biggest portion of sh3.1trillion followed by the energy sector which will get sh2.7trillion.
The security sector budget has also drastically gone up by 30% from sh1.1trillion in the ending financial year to sh1.5trillion in the forthcoming financial year.
Aware that URA revenue collection target for 2015/2016 is sh11.1trillion, government will be able to fund the next budget by about 60% and the remaining percentage will be from external and domestic borrowing.
Agriculture, which is the backbone of Uganda’s economy, will get a dismal budget of sh484.6b (2.9%) and the health sector will continue limping with only sh963.7b (6.5%).
In 2001, African governments committed to allocating not less than 15% of their national budgets to health and in 2003, through the Maputo protocol, African governments committed to allocating not less than 10% of their national budgets to agriculture.
In 2012, the NRM caucus resolved at Kyankwanzi that agriculture should not get less than 7% of the national budget but the NRM government is yet to fulfill its own commitment.
The presidency will get a total of sh328.3b, which is nearly equivalent to the total budget for six ministries which include EAC ministry (sh24.4b), gender, labour and social development ministry (sh79.8b), ICT ministry (sh20.8b) lands, housing and urban development ministry (sh125.9b and tourism, trade and industry ministries (sh79.9b). The total budget for these six underfunded ministries is sh338b.
The parliament budget expressed concern that government has proposed to increase classified/unrevealed expenditure from sh342.3b in the current year to sh607.1b in the next financial year.
Some MPs like the shadow minister for the Youth Bernard Atiku proposed that the money for classified expenditure and the presidency should be reallocated to agriculture and teachers’ salaries.
The teachers who are on strike need sh123.8b for their 10% salary enhancement to be implemented and if government was to give them the last resort demand of 5%, it would spend only sh61.9b.
SOURCE: New Vision, 26/05/2015, http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/668890-parliament-has-3-days-to-approve-...