Local governments demand for increased funding

Local governments want the government to increase the districts’ share of the national budget for improved service delivery.

The districts under their umbrella association, Uganda Local Government Association (ULGA) say, for services to improve at the district level, government should give them about 40% share of the National Budget.

This was contained in a memorandum the Mityana district chairman Joseph Luzige presented at the closure of the National dialogue on decentralisation held at Royal Suites Bugoloobi in Kampala.

According to Luzige, it is challenging for local governments to source for their own funding following the abolition of the Graduated tax which was a major source of revenue for the district governments.

The local government leaders are also uncomfortable with the policy reforms as suggested by the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) which transferred the mandate for collection of local taxes to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).

ULGA suggests that the government can top up the funding to the districts by directly sending funds retained by central government from projects and programmes managed at the centre.

This can translate into minimum of Shs 2.2trillion addition to the district budgets.
Luzige said that currently, local governments cannot fulfill their mandate under the Local Government Act to monitor government projects at district level.

“Government should ensure that it doesn’t pass laws that recentralise services. For instance, we have so many laws like the Public Finance Management Act, appointment of Chief administrative officers who are controlled by the centre yet the Local government Act says, they are under our mandate,” Luzige said.

ULGA suggests that the Ministry of Local government be given an opportunity to assess laws and policies and issue a compliance certificate before the laws are past.

“This is intended to ensure that new policies do not in anyway undermine older policies and are inclusive in a manner that represents the objectives and voice of the local governments. This is because local governments are best suited to implement government projects as they work closely with the locals,” Luzige said.

Local government minister Tom Butime in a paper, “Repositioning Local Government Institutions and Service Delivery under an effective Constitutional Policy of Decentralisation,” committed to advocate for proper implementation of the decentralisation policy.

He said that when ministries choose to monitor government projects directly without using local governments, there is a risk of poor monitoring that could result in poor service delivery.

“My position is that, if the DVO (District Veterinary Officer) can escape the supervision and monitoring of the district chairperson, Resident District Commissioner, the CAO, you now make him report to Entebbe! You will not see him a gain,” Butime said.

“It weakens the district, weakens decentralisation and weakness the capacity and powers of the district chairperson to manage affairs of Hus district,” he added.
ULGA also called for a law to protect the share allocation to local governments, and protect it from arbitrary cuts.