The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mathias Mpuuga has unveiled the opposition’s alternative national budget for the next financial year 2023/2024.
The 49 Trillion Shillings budget under the theme; Rethinking Uganda’s Economy: A Human Rights Approach to Resource Allocation was delivered on Friday
In his speech, Mpuuga says that out of the proposed 48.9 trillion Shillings alternative national budget, 32.8 trillion will be internally generated revenue.
He notes that the 32.8 trillion is composed of a projected total tax collection of 27.83 trillion, a proposed recovery of 4 trillion from tax exemptions, and another 1 trillion from corruption scandals.
“Among other things, we shall pay interest payment of 3.34 trillion. We are committed to clearing all verified domestic arrears of 844.4 billion. We shall restrict Domestic Rollover to 6 trillion. We intend not to have Domestic Borrowing so that we do not crowd out private investments in the country,” says Mpuuga.
Mpuuga explained that they intend to reduce domestic borrowing to zero and lower the interest rates to a level that will favor private investments in the country.
“We don’t want a government that will compete with private investors in the treasury bills and bonds markets. Crowding out is one of the major causes of business failure in this country where businesses run short of favorable sources of business finance. We intend to limit borrowing to only 6.716 trillion as it was in the financial year 2022/2023. The reason we are doing this is that at 53 percent debt to GDP ratio, Uganda’s debt burden is already unsustainable,” Mpuuga says.
According to the Opposition, their proposed budget takes on a Human Rights Approach, targeting spending on sector priorities which directly impact the common person.
The proposes strategic areas are financial prudence, accountability, and value-for-money through various reforms in the Ministry of Finance, promotion and modernization of agriculture, improved preventive health-care system, improved quality of education, development, and maintenance of infrastructure, improved observance of human rights and the rule of law, creation of jobs through Private Sector Enterprise Development, justice, constitutional affairs and the judicial system and others.
The alternative proposed sector allocations are 3.52 trillion for Works and Transport, 2.952 trillion for Health, 2.12 trillion for Defense and Veteran Affairs, 2.07 trillion for Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), 1.75 trillion for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, 1.48 trillion for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, 1.45 trillion Water and Environment, 1.45 trillion for Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives, 1.41 trillion for Energy and Mineral Development, 1.4 trillion Internal Affairs and others.
The other proposed alternative sector budget allocations are 825 billion for Presidency, 695 billion for Tourism, 660 billion for Gender, Labour, and Social Development, 604 billion for Public Service and Local Government, 460 billion for Education and Sports, 222.95 billion, 176.7 billion for Information, Communication, and Technology, 90 billion Foreign Affairs, and 9.8 billion for East African Community Affairs.
The alternative proposed budget comes after the Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija presented to Parliament a proposed budget of 50 trillion for the next financial year 2023/2024.
The proposed national budget will be financed through domestic revenue equivalent to 28.83 trillion, budget support amounting to 2.491 trillion, domestic borrowing of 1.585 trillion, external project support worth 8.04 trillion, domestic refinancing of 8.798 trillion, and local revenue for local government (AIA) of 238.5 billion Shillings.
The government’s key priorities include the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway and finalization of the rehabilitation of the Meter Gauge Railway under the Integrated Transport program (4.65 trillion); investing in small-scale solar-powered irrigation as well as addressing climate change and food security under Agro Industrialization Programme (1.499 trillion) and others.
The other priorities are constructing power service stations and transmission lines under the Sustainable Energy Development program at 1.2 trillion and capitalization of Uganda Development Bank -UDB and Uganda Development Corporation- UDC to continue supporting private sector development, recovery, and economic transformation under the Private Sector Development (1.798 trillion).
According to the sector allocations, the Human Capital Development program which includes Education, Health, Gender, and Social Development has been planned to receive 9.005 trillion Shillings, an allocation lower than that of 9.089 trillion in the current financial year budget of 2022/2023.
On Agriculture, the opposition proposes increased access to affordable agricultural credit by farmers, increase access to water for agricultural production to curb the effects of climate change through irrigation, increase access to farm inputs and improved extension services, increase market access, increase agricultural production through curbing counterfeit inputs, increase the use of advanced technologies and others.
The opposition also proposes a re-organization of the structure of health centers and a focus on strengthening and functionalizing Health Centers IV, ensuring adequate and appropriate human resources for health, and establishing and remunerating community health extension workers and village health workers. Others include controlling the spread of malaria-causing vectors, reduce on high out-of-pocket spending on health, and recruiting second-specialized medical workers to private not-for-profit health facilities.
Under the education sector, the alternative budget seems to restore the importance of the Inspectorate of Schools’ Department in the Education Ministry, review the new Lower Secondary Curriculum with a view to refocus its targets, improve service delivery and involve key stakeholders in developing dynamic tools, increase capitation grant to 40,000 Shillings for each pupil under Universal Primary Education (UPE), 80,000 Shillings for students in Lower Secondary and 120,000 Shillings for those in Advanced Level under Universal Secondary Education (USE).
The opposition also proposes to review and operationalize the School Feeding Programme in order to boost learning and enhance learner retention, improve sports Infrastructure, and offer tax exemptions to attract investors in the sports sector. Others are putting in place a reward system for sports medalists across the different disciplines so as to enhance motivation and participation at various levels.
On lands, housing, and urban development, Mpuuga notes that the sector is currently grappling with increased land evictions and grabbing, increased encroachment on government and public land, corruption, and fraudulent land transactions among others.
He says that in a bid to mitigate the challenges, they propose to prioritize strengthening land tenure security, causing an audit of the Land Fund, auditing all transactions on public land, tackling the shortfall in housing construction, and financing and implementing of the National Physical Development Plan.
The alternative Budget Speech event was attended by different political party leaders, members of the private sector, education institution leaders, the Inspector General of Government, and others.