Well, I happen to be part of a group of young people’s think-and-do policy influencers, who have decided to make the national Budget our priority. The aim is to have an inclusive Budget in areas that target youth to not only create a conducive environment, but also an inclusive one that speaks to the needs and issues of young people.
These include especially social services that fall under the ministries of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Agriculture, Health, and Education and Sports. A healthy generation is a productive and active one. We have participated in budget conferences at sub-county, district, regional and national levels as well as Parliament.
We are engaged in the Budget month activities coordinated by the Ministry of Finance and Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). A few weeks ago, Parliament passed a national Budget of more than Shs40 trillion. At Parliament, ministers present their ministerial statements, which showed the disparities and the gaps in the national Budget.
Let us look at the Ministry of Agriculture, budget, for example, where the administration, technical and political heads at the ministry headquarters take the biggest chunk of money. But what kind of agriculture is done at the ministry’s head office! According to ministry statement that was presented to Parliament as budget for FY2019/2020, Agriculture ministry gets Shs529.604b out of the entire budget of Shs1.00136 trillion, Naro Shs10.0696b, and Naads Shs122.903b, among others.
The minister informed Parliament that the budget estimates are strategically refocusing the agriculture sector in order to attain the mission of transforming our farming households from subsistence to commercial agriculture. This will help drive the country into middle income status. However, this remains rhetoric.
Agriculture remains the main thrust of Uganda’s economic growth, which has underfunded fundamental priorities/components of research and innovation technologies. Yet this sector still contributes 25 per cent of our national GDP and employs more than 70 per cent of Uganda’s population.
It employs more people, but contributes less to the economy than it should! Statistics show that women constitute 55 per cent of the economically active population who contribute more than 75 per cent of the total farm labour and more than 90 per cent of farm level primary processing operations.
The challenging question is, why should KCCA get Shs7b for farming yet in the previous financial year, Parliament noted that there was misuse of money by the Authority? Ministry of Agriculture says they will turn district agricultural institutions to zonal institutions yet they do not tell us how many of these institutions have been activated and are functional? Same applies to the Ministry of Finance. They will tell you that jobs will be created in the tourism sector, agriculture, oil and gas industry, but they never give you the unit estimate or how many jobs have been or will be created.
As a citizen, I am not just interested in how much of my tax will be used, but what the outcomes will be is equally my concern and that is the kind of a national budget I envisioned as a young Ugandan. All we deserve as citizens is a Budget that is performance-based per sector so that we pay more taxes in building a better and accountable Uganda.
In the Agriculture budget, issues of financing/agriculture bank, extension services, demonstration farms, farm inputs, research and innovation are never talked about.
The primary mandate of leadership is to establish justice and mercy. The primary mandate of economics is to build enterprise and generosity. The primary mandate of education is to impart skills and upright values. It is upon these three mandates that the national purpose and national direction is rooted. All matters of the nation come as a consequence of clear national purpose and direction.
All laws of the nation are set to fulfil clear national purpose and direction. All programmes of the nation ought to be designed to fulfil clear national purpose and direction. All projects of the nation are made to fulfil clear national purpose and direction. All activities of the nation are undertaken to fulfil clear national purpose and direction.
The national purpose and direction is guided by the national vision of building a just, productive and orderly people. It is crucial now than ever before to ask what it means to be just. Who is a just person? What does a just person do? How does a just person work?
Ugandan citizens, especially the youth should be productive and orderly in order to achieve development and bring more Ugandans into the middle income status yourselves in where taxpayers monies go and where they come from, accountability by right as citizen is the direction we should not only envision, but also take.
We are observing and analysing the national Budget FY2019/2020 to make sure that government works for us the citizens.
Mr Rugaba is a youth advocate for Sustainable Development and consultant on youth engagement and a budget analyst. [email protected],