The Budget for Financial Year 2019-20 is being tied up and will be passed this month in preparation for it to be read next month.
In recent weeks, MPs have been busy pinpointing ‘unfunded priorities’ for which the government has not provided funding so that they may be dealt with before the Budget is passed. Quite a few areas have been earmarked, leading to various demands.
For instance, the Executive has been tasked to look for money to fund the full operationalisation of sub-counties and town councils that took effect in July 2018 but have until now not been fully financed and financing had not been provided for them for the coming Financial Year. There are a number of other areas for which MPs insist money must be found before the Budget is passed.
But if you scrutinise those ‘priorities’, the picture that emerges is that those ‘priorities’ will not necessarily improve the way Ugandans live; they will certainly not improve production and productivity. Very few things have been thought of that will make Uganda a better society in the near future. The future is not being paid sufficient attention to in our budgeting, it would appear.
For purposes of illustration, we will take one example. Not long ago, the government was stampeded into trying to deal with the collapse of maize grain prices due to bumper harvest. The farm-gate price for a kilo of maize grain fell to Shs200 and less in some parts of Uganda, occasioning untold losses on farmers, who had no storage facilities to preserve the grain for later when the prices rise.
The government offered to buy some of the grain as a mitigating measure, but that too had its own problems.
The lasting solution for such a problem is to put in place storage facilities to help peasant farmers, who will hopefully have come together in cooperative societies, to determine when to sell their produce, and to who to sell. This is old-school economics that those in government should be aware of.
It would be heartening, for a start, to have a pittance set aside to construct such storage facilities in a phased manner across different areas of the country, so that in let us say five years from now, there are sufficient storage facilities across the country. Other facilities and organisational capability would follow.
Such things, ladies and gentlemen, are what we need to do to develop our country. It is important that those who lead us prioritise the urgency of tomorrow.