KAMPALA, Dec. 8 — Civil society actors and citizens have tasked the Accountant General Lawrence Semakula to explain the underfunding in agriculture, health and education sectors.
“Why are you underfunding agriculture yet it is the backbone of our economy?” asked Daniel Semakula, a policy advocate of Community Integrated Development Initiative.
Another woman from Luwero, Mary Kazibwe voiced her sentiments, complaining that health centres do not have money to buy paraffin to help pregnant women during delivery.
“Why do you give little resources to the health sector?”
This was during a discussion organized by Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) and Accountability Sector on “financing the accountability sector in Uganda”.
The parallel discussion took place at Hotel Africana in Kampala.
The government took a hit from speakers over what they called inadequate funding of key sectors in Uganda.
A woman from Rukungiri district talked of the exorbitant fee levied on patients when they try to access medication in government facilities.
Then, Daniel Mugabi – a media advocate – piled onto the complaints, probing whether there was political interference in the ministry of finance when it comes to allocation of funds.
“To what extent does political interference affect the ministry of finance officials?” he asked.
In response to these concerns, the Accountant General admitted that the resource envelope was small, and blamed this on low revenue mobilization.
He explained that the money allocated to the ministry of water and environment and works ministry on water for production and infrastructure goes to the agriculture sector. But his defence instead raised more eyebrows than it did help cool the tempers.
“Why don’t you give specific budget for agriculture rather than funding it indirectly?” one person from the audience bellowed.
The Accountant General outlined the challenges the accountability sector is facing, including low public demand for accountability, high levels of corruption and low level of compliance.
He urged the public to demand accountability from their district and political leaders as well as civil servants.
Semakula acknowledged the pivotal role the civil society actors play in demanding for accountability and transparency from government, saying that because of such pressure, government now releases funds in a quarterly basis unlike before.
But he was keen to deny that there was political interference although admitting that they (technocrats) are implementing the ruling government’s manifesto.
Presenting the civil society perspective, Keith Kisaame from Development Initiatives, pointed out that accountability had suffered because of the numerous scandals in Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and pension scam.
He urged civil society organisations (CSOs) to improve their credibility so that they can gain moral ground to criticise government.