03/2016. Government Commits to input CSO Proposals into the National Budget for FY 2016/17
BY MARILYN KABALERE, Advocacy Officer
Posted: March 2016
The budget for FY 2016/2017 has already been presented in Parliament for approval and appropriation. It’s in this regard that a pre-budget dialogue was held on 18th March 2016 to share the budget projections and expectations on the 2016/2017 national budget.
Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Uganda in partnership with Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) organized this dialogue at UMA Conference hall in Kampala under the theme: “The 5 Year Journey to transforming Uganda’s Economy and the Prospects of the FY 2016/17 budget in addressing Today’s economic challenges”. The dialogue was graced by Hon. Fred Omach, Minister of State for General Duties, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. It brought together over 200 CSO, rural and urban farmers, policy activists, teachers, development partners, youth and CSOs from different parts of Uganda who were accorded the opportunity to interrogate the budget and present a position paper from the CSO perspective.
One of the policy issues raised by the CSOs was the inability of smallholder farmers to access the Agriculture Credit Facility (ACF). The CSOs have found out that majority of the ACF loans are extended mainly to larger commercial farmers and processors, many of whom are well established and already have access to commercial banks. CSOs recommended that Government should deliberately establish a Cooperative Bank which will explicitly focus on smallholder farmers’ credit needs; hedge against risks such as crop failure and volatilities in the prices of agro-products.
In his speech, the Minister assured participants that in the FY 2016/17, Government wants to invest more in production, productivity and value addition with a special focus on injecting money in SACCOs (tier 4) under Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives such that smallholder farmers can have easy access to financial services.
More concerns raised by CSOs were: how does Government intend to address the problem of fake agro inputs on the market and the need for extension services among others. In addition the issue of not having any allocation on non wage for extension was also raised. In response to this the Director Budget Mr. Kenneth Mugambe noted that the government is being systematic by employing extension workers first in the forth coming financial year and then non wage in the next financial years.
While quoting a study by World Bank, Mr. Mugambe said that agriculture still remains key and once invested in can get more people out of poverty. He further on said that the ministry supports agricultural production and productivity and for the FY 2016/2017 there will be an increase in allocation to the agricultural sector. More allocation of 22 billion will be provided to recruit extension workers, in terms of agriculture financing 30 billion is allocated every year and in the next financial year they will introduce the agriculture insurance scheme.
Having said that, he noted that the problem is not the allocation but performance by different sectors agriculture inclusive and therefore called upon Non State Actors to work closely with their respective ministries to ensure that there is value for money by monitoring the implementation of the budget.