Ministries of Finance, Local Gov’t disagree over sub-counties funding

Minister Namuyangu (L) with district leaders and Lt. Gen. Charles Angina in Kasese

The Ministry of Local Government is locked in a disagreement with the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development over the operationalization of more than 600 lower-level administrative units.

Two years ago, the government approved the creation of 364 sub-counties and 352 town councils which have remained largely non-operational due to lack of funding.

To get the administrative units up and running, the Ministry of Finance in a budget call circular to local governments in preparation for the 2021/2022 national budget, directed that the sub-counties and town councils should operate using locally raised revenue which the Ministry of Local Government has rejected.

 “In the budget call circular, the Ministry of Finance had directed that we operationalize those units but using local revenue – which we don’t agree to as your ministry because we know that this money [from local revenue] is not there,” said Jennifer Namuyangu, the state minister for Local Government.

Namuyangu was speaking during the 25th annual general meeting of the Uganda Local Governments Association (ULGA) held on March 29 in Kasese district.

 “We are engaging the Ministry of Finance [telling them] that it is not feasible to ask the local leaders to use local revenue because some of the sub counties don’t have it all,” she added.

She was speaking in response to remarks by the ULGA president, Joseph Lomonyang, who wondered why government continues to create new administrative units but failed to adequately fund them.

Besides the sub-counties and town councils, even the 10 newly created cities have been running on budgets meant for the municipal councils that were elevated to city status. Namuyangu however told the meeting that the cities’ budget was included in next financial year’s budget thus offering hope that the cities will get operational funds effective July 1.

Namuyangu further told the meeting that the ministry is in advanced stages of procuring motorcycles for the more than 1,000 sub-county chairpersons following a series of battles in court and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA).

“Whenever we have been putting out an advert to start the procurement process, some people run to court, others to PPDA… that is how we lost money last financial year. Again this financial year, we are in the procurement process and somebody had to run to PDDA but this has been resolved; we are going to have the motorcycles procured for the LCIIIs and bicycles for the LC I chairpersons,” Namuyangu said.

 Responding to a demand that the outgoing LC-V chairpersons be allowed to retain their official vehicles as their retirement package, Namuyangu said that consultations are still ongoing on whether to allow the district bosses to retain the cars or get “something else.”

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