Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have called for independent civil society tracking and monitoring of COVID-19 emergency expenditures.
While the CSO’s welcomed the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) approval of Uganda’s loan request of Shs 1.8 trillion in emergency assistance under the rapid credit facility to address the COVID-19 pandemic, they want measures to be put in place to ensure transparency and accountability.
The NGOs insist that, at a time when the country is experiencing limited movement, full parliamentary oversight and independent civil society tracking and monitoring of emergency expenditures is crucial.
In a joint statement issued by Oxfam-Uganda and the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), Julius Mukunda, the CSBAG executive director asked the IMF to include in its facility, terms and provisions which ensure the active participation of civil society in the oversight of government’s investment in such facilities.
Mukunda said that civil society can only play its role when it has access to information with regards to the government’s spending of the emergency funds.
“Our basis for asking for this practice is rooted in the special nature of financing facilities such as loans. Loan obligations stretch across generations and its burdens are higher if they are misused.” the statement reads.
Mukunda added that CSO’s access to the decisions taken by the government on expenditure will ensure transparency and accountability of these emergency funds. He says the IMF should depart from the normal requirements and practice of transparency and accountability and adopt more stringent measures.
The CSO’s have also called upon the Government of Uganda and the IMF to publish Uganda’s COVID-19 response plan, revenue generation plans, funds raised, and budgetary allocations.
They also say that as obligated under the open contracting measures, the government should publish in a timely manner, all emergency procurement plans and notices including names of awarded companies and beneficial owners.
They have also called on the IMF to promote fiscal consolidation measures that will support the government to mobilize more domestic revenues while implementing fair tax policies that do not further burden the poor and most vulnerable Ugandans, while at the same time ensuring there is more public spending on health, education, social development and agriculture sectors.
Government is currently receiving donations in cash and as physical items to support the intervention towards COVID-19 lockdown.