Parliament on Tuesday approved the national Budget Framework Paper (BFP) for financial year 2024/25 with several recommendations to the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to find more money to fund priorities not provided for.
Known for increasing the total budget in the most recent years through supplementary requests, Finance had presented to Parliament in December the BFP with a projected resource envelope of UGX 52.722 trillion. The BFP was passed after Parliament debated and adopted both the majority report and minority report of the Budget Committee.
The resource envelope approved with the BFP includes; UGX 29.957 trillion of projected local revenue; UGX 28.94 billion of budget support; UGX 4.116 trillion of domestic borrowing; UGX 8.876 trillion of external borrowing; UGX 9.455 trillion of domestic refinancing; and, UGX 287.1 billion of local revenue for local governments.
If by the time the Ministry of Finance presents the final budget estimates, the resource envelope remains the same as in the BFP, the national budget for financial year 2024/25 will be just UGX 14.1 billion less the approved budget for the current financial year.
Where Money Will Go
After shifting from the sector based budgeting to program based planning, the Ministry of Finance has allocated funds in the following ways. Development Plans Implementation programs which include debt payment has been allocated UGX18.863 trillion; Human Capital Development, UGX 9.589 trillion; Integrated Transport Infrastructure and Services, UGX 4.491 trillion; Governance and Security, 7.675 trillion; Private Sector Development, UGX 1.911 trillion; Agro-Industrialisation, UGX 1.813 trillion; Sustainable Energy Development, UGX 1.342 trillion; Regional Development, UGX 1.047 trillion; and, Legislation, Oversight and Representation (Parliamentary Commission), UGX 945.76 billion.
Other program allocations are; Sustainable Urbanisation and Housing, UGX 524.46 billion; Sustainable Petroleum Development, UGX 447.03 billion; Administration of Justice; UGX 432.44 billion; Natural Resources, Climate Change, Land and Water Management, UGX 426.65 billion; Innovation, Technology Development and Transfer, UGX 256.66 billion; Tourism Development, UGX 248.70 billion; Public Sector Transformation, UGX 228.53 billion; Manufacturing, UGX 218.81 billion; Digital Transformation, UGX 191.83 billion; Mineral Development, UGX 47.33 billion; and, Community Mobilisation and Mindset Change, UGX 35.08 billion.
The Budget Committee in its report questioned the allocation of meager resources to the key areas that are necessary for the development of the country in order to match the progress made in the region.
The least financially prioritised and yet strategic in nature include the Mineral Development program with only 0.1 percent of the proposed budget. Other programs with decimal shares include; Innovation, Technology Development and Transfer (0.4 percent), Manufacturing (0.2 percent) and Tourism Development (0.5 percent),the report reads in part.
Parliament adopted a recommendation that the Government prioritises funding to the Mineral Development Program so that the country’s mineral potential is fully harnessed through making the sector attractive to large-scale mining companies.
Under the Human Capital Development Program, Parliament adopted a recommendation that the government should consider increasing the budget for health and education sectors if there is to be effective service delivery.
There is a need to devote more resources to education and health care to build a more resilient and healthier labour force. As some infrastructure projects wind-up, more focus should be put on human capital development to support the industrialisation process. More resources are required for recruitment of both primary and secondary school teachers and health workers, read the recommendation.
Key Unfunded Priorities
During the Budget Committee meetings, all Sectoral Committees presented several requests for additional funding for what is known as unfunded priorities listed by the different Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). According to the Budget Committee report, such priorities were presented to the Ministry of Finance by the MDAs but they were not provided for in the BFP.
While the Budget Committee could not entertain all the requests for additional funding, those considered most pressing were recommended to Parliament and have since been adopted hence the onus is on the Ministry of Finance to find money without stretching the resource envelope.
Some of the key recommendations for additional funding are; Internal Security Organisation (ISO), UGX 42.9b for recruitment of agents to avert several security threats, and, also UGX 26.67 billion for new equipment for on-going classified special operations; External Security Organisation (ESO), UGX 28.88 billion to acquire modern technical and transport equipment; Science and Technology, UGX 44 billion for establishment of Biosciences Park, and, UGX 29.83 billion to support vaccine development projects.
Under the Ministry of Finance, Parliament approved the recommendation for additional funding of UGX 55.96 billion to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to recruit 1278 new staff for effective revenue mobilization and UGX 9.16 billion for development of an oil and gas monitoring system.
Also benefiting from the recommendations for additional funding is the Office of the Auditor General which needs UGX 30 billion for additional human resources, UGX 7 billion to replace the aging vehicle fleet and UGX 12 billion for operational functions.
To the Judiciary, a recommendation for provision of additional UGX 11.08 billion to finance the implementation of the Automation and Integration of information management system was approved by Parliament. Another beneficiary of the recommended additional funding is the Inspectorate of Government which needs UGX 27.7 billion towards the completion of the head office by June 2025.
Much as Parliament was allocated UGX 945.76 billion for its budget, the House adopted recommendations for additional funding; UGX 83.335 billion for projected budgetary shortfall, UGX 8.176 billion for Committees and UGX 3.252 billion for wage shortfall.
Much as Parliament approved a recommendation to provide additional UGX 25 billion to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to payment of subscription to International Organisations, the Ministry’s budget will likely be cut by UGX41.8 billion which lawmakers want transferred to the Ministry of Finance to clear to settle outstanding subscription arrears.
As Uganda prepares to co-host the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 2027, the Ministry of Finance has not allocated enough funds to the National Council for Sports (NCS) to commit itself before the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Uganda won the hosting rights together with Tanzania and Kenya under the AFCON EAST AFRICA PAMOJA bid.
The Committee recommends that the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development commits additional funding of $30m (UGX 114 billion) for Commitment Fees for Uganda hosting AFCON2027, it was recommended.
Also on the preparations for the AFCON, recommendations were made for; UGX 380 billion to NCS for construction of Hoima, Akii-Bua and Buhinga stadia and UGX 20 billion for the construction of 11 training grounds for the participating national teams.
Under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Parliament adopted recommendation for addition funding for key priorities as; UGX 79.9 billion for payment of outstanding arrears for prisoners’ feeding; UGX 5.6 billion for prisoners’ uniforms; and, UGX8.5 billion to procure a pair of blanket for each prisoner. Another funding gap that Parliament recommended to be provided for is UGX 34.3 billion to the Directorate of Government Analytical Laboratory for DNA data bank construction.
What They Said
In the Minority report presented by Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda and signed by three other legislators, Parliament was reminded of the need to play its oversight role in curbing wasteful and avoidable expenditure.
We are also uncomfortable with resource allocation. The Budget for health, agriculture and education is being reduced. At the very minimum, it must be maintained by making deductions in areas where a lot of wastage takes place such as the State House and President’s Office, stated Ssemujju.
The minority report authors raised a red flag on the long convoy of the President and the 81 Presidential advisors that consume a lot of money at the expense of the ailing healthcare system, giving an example of Mulago National Referral Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit which continues to lack 73 critical care nurses, 41 nursing officers and 25 specialist doctors.
Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Joel Ssenyonyi also weighed in on the need to curb wasteful expenditure and also intensifying the fight against corruption. He said that if the government committed itself to ending corruption, the country would not be grappling with poor service delivery.
This animal called corruption. The Inspectorate of Government conducted a survey and revealed that we lose between UGX 9.1 trillion and UGX 20 trillion to corruption per year. If we don’t address this evil called corruption, we will keep having budget shortfalls. We need to roll our sleeves and deal with corruption, said Ssenyonyi.