When talking about this budget, it is important not to underlook certain things that are fundamental to the performance of our economy.
For instance, the Auditor General’s report says over 40% of government ministries departments and agencies (MDAs) do not have strategic plans. So, even when we come up with budgets, such as this, and we still have MDAs that do not have strategic plans, it makes it difficult for us to measure their performance and make the right judgments on budget performance.
The other thing is budget discipline. This year, we have seen many supplementary budgets coming up. Why do we continue to have these supplementary budgets? Are we saying that we are poor at planning? These are issues that we should be able to foresee and plan ahead for, instead of asking for more money.
What is even more disturbing is that the money sometimes is for things like donations for the State House. This is budget indiscipline and it is why we fail to achieve our targets. When you look at job creation, the Government has tried to put in place strategies, such as the Operation Wealth Creation, but then we have to ask ourselves if these have achieved their purpose.
When you look at the Auditor General’s report of the financial year 2017/18, many youths have not benefited from the Youth Livelihood Programme because of ghost groups and paying kickbacks in order to access these funds. Perhaps we should also talk about mergers, in order to put the budget in a better perspective.
In 2017, a circular was issued from President Yoweri Museveni, through the Office of the Prime Minister, about merging many agencies that were duplicating work. Up to now, we have not seen anything done. And, unless we address some of these issues, we are going to continue wasting resources.
The budget we have is not yet big, yet we have agencies that are duplicating each other’s work. Sometimes, I wonder why the Government says we do not have money, yet it does not want to eliminate wasteful expenditure in order to save.
Instead, we have seen the Government create many districts, for which we have several Members of Parliament, whose attendance of plenary is low, yet they continuously adjust their own salaries upwards.
Recently, we read in the media that they now want us to pay for them OTT. This is an abuse of the powers of Parliament and we must rein them in. On governance, the budget speech talks about 18 key target areas in mineral exploration, but we need to know if we already have guidelines in place. They even talk about the payment of royalties.
Interestingly, the Auditor General’s report of 2016 says we lost about sh1b in none payment of royalties that year. It is ironic that when we asked why these royalties were not paid, we were told that the finance minister gave these companies tax incentives. However, the minister denied this, saying no tax waiver was ever given. This leaves us with investors who are not paying taxes.