KAMPALA: Parliament’s Budget Committee on Tuesday questioned the government’s preparedness to implement the Parish Development Model (PDM) after MPs learned of a 72.8 billion budget shortfall for the programme in the next financial year 2022/2023.
The budget gap is highlighted in a report by the Public Service and Local Government Committee, which was presented to the Budget Committee by its chairperson, Godfrey Onzima. The Budget Committee is currently considering all sectoral committee reports on the budget estimates before presenting its findings and recommendations to Parliament on the national budget for the next financial year.
In his presentation to the committee, Onzima noted a budgetary shortfall of 72.8 billion for the Parish Development Model required for effective coordination and supervision.
Out of the 72.8 billion required by the Ministry of Local Government, 20 billion is for Secretariat operations and pillar Working Groups, and 52.8 billion is for local governments. The Ministry also needs an additional 26.69 billion as facilitation for parish chiefs.
The revelation raised concern from a section of MPs who noted the government’s ill-preparedness to implement the model that is envisaged to help poverty eradication.
Patrick Isiagi, the Budget Committee Chairperson, expressed concern with how the government is handling the model. He said that it was unfortunate that up to now there was no money to facilitate parish chiefs, who are the drivers of the strategic program.
Paul Omara, the Otuke County MP, also wondered how parish chiefs, who are central in the implementation of the model, are not catered for in the budget. He noted that the model could not be implemented without the necessary funds.
The same sentiments were shared by West Budama North East MP, Fox Odoi.
He said that the model should be the only vehicle for purposes of poverty eradication, but wondered how the required 26 billion for salaries for parish chiefs is not in the budget.
Dickson Kateshumbwa, the Sheema Municipality MP, questioned the need for a secretariat in Kampala to coordinate PDM activities, saying the money should be directed to the parishes to avoid any financial haemorrhage caused by bloated administrative units.
This money is supposed to go down to parishes, but indicators already seen show that we are going to have a bloated administrative structure here in Kampala and we are going to spend a lot of money. Why not send this money directly to the parishes? Why do we need to have a big administrative structure? ” Kateshumbwa questioned.
He also demanded accountability with regard to the funds totaling 180 billion shillings that were earlier made available to the 10,594 parishes across the country.
The PDM replaces Emyooga, a presidential initiative on wealth and job creation that was rolled out in October 2020 to support, among others, market vendors, welders, taxi drivers, boda-boda riders, women, and restaurant owners who come together in the form of SACCOS.
It is an extension of the approach to development as envisaged under the National Development Plan III, with the parish as the lowest administrative and operational hub for delivering services closer to the people and hence fostering local economic development.
There are over 10,594 parishes in the country. Under the initiative, each parish is supposed to receive 17 million in the current financial year to start the implementation of the programme. According to the plan, each parish will receive Sh 100 million with effect from the next financial year 2022/2023.
The launch of the programme also operationalized parish Savings and Credit Co-operative Societies (SACCOS), through which people will be able to obtain financing for development.