Civil society organisations want Agriculture Budget increased

A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are calling on government to increase funding of upto 6 percent to the agriculture sector from the current 3.3 percent.
A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are calling on government to increase funding of upto 6 percent to the agriculture sector from the current 3.3 percent.

Maria Kiwanuka, the Minister for Finance Planning and Economic development, will on Thursday this week deliver her third National Budget speech.

Civil Society Organisations in a statement today, note that agriculture is the single most important source for employment for most Ugandans at 68 percent. However, the performance of the sector has been declining from 7.9 percent in 200 to 3.1 percent in 2011 to now.

Beatrice Mugambe, the executive Director Development, research and Training, is hopeful that Minister Kiwanuka will announce a landmark budgetary increase to the sector with the aim of establishing an agricultural credit bank. This will be especially useful for small scale farmers and prioritise mechanization of agriculture.

Whereas they welcome the proposed increment to the primary health care budgets for local governments of 42.3 billion, they propose a general increase to the entire health budget to cater for all 112 districts.

This is to support the Uganda Transfusion services that have suffered an acute blood shortage but also address the quality of health care gaps between the urban and rural areas.

Dennis Odwe of the Action Group for health, human rights and HIV/AIDS says they desire that the Minister’s speech will introduce the National Health care scheme whose absence is a major risk taken by government.

They further note that funding under the water and environment sector is more urban focused yet the biggest needy population is concentrated in the rural areas, hard to reach, hard to stay and hard to come out. Examples are Mpungu in Kanungu, Dzaipi in Adjumani and Tapac in Moroto among others.

Grace Alupo from Water Aid Uganda says there should be a collective effort to address issues of hygiene and sanitation. She notes that the performance report of the water sector in 2012 declined to 64 percent from 65 in 2011. This is despite the fact that the national budget remains at three percent thus the need for an increment to match the growing population.

On education they urge government to increase support to the education standards agency to ensure inspections and quality of education is improved. The total budget to education is projected to reduce from the current 14.6 percent in the financial year 2012/13 to 13.3 percent in 2013/14.

The President in his state of the nation address mentioned that Uganda would become a middle income country by 2017. However, CSO’s believe this can only happen if inequality and vulnerabilities are tackled to sustain the already achieved economic growth.

They also want government to fulfill its commitment of counter funding to the senior citizens grant and roll out cash transfers into all subcounties in the 14 pilot districts and eventually extend it to all districts.

They conclude that government needs to check public finance management which is the main challenge the country faces in budget execution. Supplementary budgets they contend do not only increase inefficiency, abuse and misuse but also undermines budget credibility and the spirit of budget consultation processes.

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