By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/Umoja Standard.
Kampala, Uganda: Speaking to journalists at the sidelines of the event where CSOs gave in their perspective on the FY 2023/24 National Budget Framework Paper, Julius Mukunda- the Executive Director of Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) stressed that there is mixing of government programs some of which are not most pressing.
“I think we have a challenge in prioritizing government programmes, which one comes first, the point is we need a health and educated population to engage in agriculture but a hungry population will not go schools. So, it becomes a chicken and an egg issue, there must be a balance”. Said Mukunda.
He said, ‘you can’t have human capital development as number one and agriculture as number five, may be number two or three. So, you have that particular balance, even when you are healthy and you want to go to agriculture you need to have enough food to be able to remain health, to go to school and be productive’.
“The balance is what is missing but also specifically, what are we investing in agriculture, people are talking about irrigation but ordinary citizens cannot use equipment rather need small scale solar power irrigation”. Revealed Mukunda.
He however, the challenge in agriculture is not water but is all about markets. It is against this background that Mukunda said that today, ‘if you told farmers that you want squared watermelons and there is a guaranteed market for them, they will produce them. They will look for their own seeds, extension services, they will go and learn about them and produce it’.
Giving his view on overlapping government debt, Mukunda said that there is no way we can deal with debt if we don’t first curb the unnecessary expenditure in various government agencies and departments. Surprisingly most of these do the same job there by seeking their merger.
Responding to the role of legislators in the FY2023/24 National Budget Framework Paper, Hon. Agnes Atim Apea- Woman Member of Parliament for Amolatar District said ‘our role is to scrutinize and prioritize the budget and make it pro people, whenever budget is presented to us, we look into it to see that it benefits the population’.
Commenting on why Human Capita Development took lion’s share in the FY2023/24 Budget, Hon. Apea stated that this looks at key things that include, skills development, Health issues and others.
She emphasized that government needs to pay for people to have skills and do better agriculture, ICT and the rest but believed that this and agriculture are complementary.
It should be remembered that a propozed budget of a Shs49.98 trillion budget for Financial Year 2023/2024 was passed to be financed through domestic revenue equivalent to Shs28.8 trillion, budget support amounting to Shs2.4 trillion, domestic borrowing Shs1.6trillion and external project support of Shs8trillion.
The other sources are, domestic refinancing of Shs8.7 trillion and local revenue for local government of Shs238.5 billion.
These were revealed during Civil Society Organizations pre-budget dialogue for the 2023/24 financial year held at Golf Course Hotel, Kampala under the theme; Realizing economic recovery and social economic transformation: the role of the FY 2023/24 budget.