Shs 20.6bn needed for 195 new Town Councils

To operationalise the newly created new Town Councils, government needs at least Shs 20.6bn as start-up funds for the new administrative units.

Town Councils are a level-3 urban administrative unit below a Municipal Council.

The funds are part of the Ministry of Local Government’s budget request for the 2018/19 financial year.

The new administrative units were approved against the advise of the Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi who warned Parliament against approving “politically lobbied” administrative administrative units because there is no money to fund them.

However, on September 22, 2017, the Local Governments minister Tom Butime invoke his powers under Article 179 (4) of the Constitution and issued a statutory instrument creating the new Town Councils.

At least 111 of them became operational retrospectively on July 1, 2017, some being automatically upgraded on the basis of hosting district headquarters.

Another 84 Town Councils are scheduled to become operational on July 1, 2018 in line with government’s desire to “take services closer to the people and create jobs.”

Chairperson of Parliament’s committee on Local Governments and Public Service, Godfrey Onzima told Parliament on Thursday that despite the fact that some of Town Councils became functional last year, funds haven’t been provided to actualize the Town Councils’ functionality.

The development means that by July 1, the number of Town Councils will rise to 422 which translates into increased public expenditure on wages and allowances for staff and political leaders.

Nonetheless, Parliament directed the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to secure the funds and them available to the Ministry of Local Governments to spearhead the functionality for the already approved units.