CSOs to gov’t: downsize cabinet, cut public expenditure

The rising public debt resulting from government’s uncontrolled borrowing in the name of funding development projects will form the core of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) advocacy agenda for 2019.

In their New Year message, the CSOs under their umbrella organization, Uganda National NGO Forum expressed concern over Uganda’s growing debt which they listed among its key issues of focus in 2019.

“As civil society leaders, we intend to put more focus on the issue of debt and provide more workable solutions on how to increase efficiency in the absorption of borrowed funds and strengthen domestic resource mobilisation to often excessive leading that is highly predatory,” said Richard Ssewakiryanga, the executive director of Uganda National NGO Forum.

The Auditor General’s latest report that is before Parliament puts Uganda’s public debt at Shs 41.3 trillion as at June 30, 2018, an increase of Shs 32.3 trillion in 10 years since the 2006/2007 financial year with about 32.4 percent domestically sourced, mostly from commercial banks.

While Finance minister Matia Kasaija issued a statement claiming that the debt is still manageable since it has surpassed the international sustainability threshold, there is still public outrage over the debt burden and its likely implications on the economy.

The CSOs say that while government continues to justify excessive borrowing as unavoidable in its pursuit of mega infrastructure projects, it has not demonstrated the necessary frugality and financial discipline to mitigate the negative impact of debt on the economy and the current and future taxpayers.

“The rapidly growing domestic debt has risen by 178% since 2003 is simply too big to dump on ourselves and our children; there is also no evidence of a country that has ever borrowed itself out of poverty” reads the statement.

These hence want government to reduce the cost of public administration by reducing size of cabinet to save resources, enhance fight against corruption and make sure that there is consensus on projects so that only serious ones are funded through loans acquired.

They are also want government to introduce measures to curb tax evasion, put an end to tax holidays given big companies so that more local revenues and target the informal sector so as to generate more local revenue.