Finance minister Matia Kasaija is scheduled to read the 2016/17 national budget speech today against a heavy caution from the public and World Bank demanding to ‘walk the talk’.
The budget is expected to puts heavy attention on infrastructural expansion and improving service delivery. The function takes place at the Kampala Serena International Conference Centre.
Parliament last month approved a sh26.3trillion budget for the 2016/2017 financial year which will be formally presented to the country. The budget is about sh3 trillion higher than the sh24 trillion budget for the 2015/2016 financial year.
Similar budget readings are expected today in the East African Community member states of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi.
This is the second time the fatherly Kasaija will read the budget speech coming on the heels of his reappointment as finance minister. Kasaija often spices his speeches with gems of wisdom.
However the World Bank has cautioned Uganda about its smart and flowery like budgets but which have never been fully executed to translate into increased employment opportunities and better welfare for the citizens.
The World Bank has raised questions raised on the quality and huge expenditures on roads, human capital development (schools), energy projects and agriculture expenditure which do not seem to result in high economic growth rates. Ronald Mugoma, a businessman said the budget reading has become a ritual and little comes out of it to significantly improve the lives of Ugandans.
“There is under-execution of the budget matched by overall inefficiency in investments. There is minimal contribution of investments to growth. In fact for every shilling of public investment in Uganda, the country is so far reaping a fraction (7/10) of economic output,” Rachel Sebudde, a senior economist, World Bank Uganda said.
“How then can public investments yield the returns to keep Uganda growing? The answer lies in searching for more returns from investments. Good practice lessons from other countries suggest that public investments must focus on how the entire project cycle works, and not just at the point of securing financing. Public investment plan/programs adopted as panacea in the past, can only work if supported by strong appraisal function,” Sebudde said.
She said there must be a goal keeper across the project cycle –this role mainly is played by Ministries of finance in some countries. But countries, serious ones, are also taking steps towards. Realization that it is not a simple task, but there are some common features
She underlined the sore areas of Uganda’s budget which include; low execution rates on donor and own-budget projects are pervasive, long delays during implementation, cost and time overruns, projects under implementation often need remedial interventions very soon after inception suggesting that readiness for implementation was fundamentally lacking. The monitoring function that should be looking at steady progress reports instead gets pulled into emergency measures, she said.
Other state ministers for finance are Gabriel Ajedra (general duties), David Bahati (planning), Evelyn Anite (privatization and investment), Haruna Kasolo Kyeyune (microfinance).