Finance Permanent Secretary Keith Muhakanizi
Ever since this current government took over the driving seat to take Uganda forward in the mission to reach the Promised Land under the leadership of His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Uganda has been experiencing frequency creation of unplanned districts which has created a sabotage in financial flow that are to facilitate these new districts, however the responsible people (the parliament) have always kept on increasing the number of these districts but not planning resource allocations.
While appearing before the parliamentary committee this year in July Permanent Secretary ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development Keith Muhakanizi. “Resources which we have today are not enough to run these new districts; it’s still not possible to have more new districts, we have always kept on telling the cabinet about this problem but the cabinet has always objected it”
Keith continued “Parliament approved the budget priority and we are very sure of what our budget standards can manage but now we are in a total mess all this problem comes from the cabinet and the parliament who have pass on the creation of new districts may be in the future they will take our advice”.
It must be remember that in 2015 a motion was staged on the floor of the parliament by local government cabinet minister Hon Adolf Mwesigye requesting to withdrawal the 2012 motion of creating 25 new districts because the government didn’t have 59 billion to fund the new districts but he failed due to an overwhelming desire which had been expressed by the legislatures of the 9th parliament where the by then Member of Parliament Tororo Hon Geoffrey Ekanya attempted to commit suicide on August 11th 2015 before the parliamentary floor after learning that Tororo county had not been granted district status.
However it must be remember that even at that time, ministry of finance cautioned the 9th parliament through a letter from Secretary of the treasury by Keith Muhakanizi, addressing the president, that the funds which were available would only sustain 4 new districts. However ministry of local government had received a copy and it was read before the floor of the parliament by the by then state minister for local government Hon Alex Onzima amidst points of orders by the government chief whip Ms Ruth Nakabirwa and by then state minister for economic monitoring Hon Henry Banyenzaki who never wanted the controversial letter to be presented before the parliament because it was contradicting with what most legislatures wanted however much money was not there.
According to Keith Muhakanizi there is a very big gap in service deliveries between the newly created districted and the old districts “Creation of these new districts has made some salaries to delay like for teachers because there is a change in financial system but I still stand my ground that creation of new districts has really made financing hard because our budget is strained since expenditures are increasing but revenues don’t increase and remember these districts are permanent yet therefore much planning is needed which the legislatures tend to blind off”
Muhakanizi has always been a positive campaigner for efficiency in public expenditure and has kept his relentless public criticism of government ‘s decision to create new districts in Uganda , last month while releasing expenditure releases for the Financial Year (FY) 2017/2018 advised political leadership against partitioning further administrative units, saying it was not sustainable.
In 2015, 9th parliament approved 23 new districts to become operational in a phase until the year 2020 and out the 23 so far 10 districts have been created where by four of these; Kakumiro, Kagadi, Omoro and Rubanda started working in 2016 while 6 including Namisindwa, Pakwach, Butebo, Rukiga, Kyotera, and Bunyangabo started operating on 1 of July this year.
The politicians’ wish but for majority
Politicians who are supporting this vice of creating new districts say it will increase service deliveries to the near local people and there will be and increase in efficiency because of decentralization but Muhakanizi the economist who know what is in the coffers of the country has always disproved them saying this only strains the already insufficient resources which just worsens the situation.
But politicians like State Minister of Finance for Planning, David Bahati say “ Creation of new districts is intended to promote peace and increase on the number of employment opportunities since over 1000 graduates are produced in a year, we cannot fear to fear to implement something because it will create another problem and this issue of districts we have always kept on telling the finance PS that this problem is above him and advised him to stop this controversial campaign but he has continued with it when he is in public” Bahati said.
However not every legislature supported this it remembered the Hon Magyezi opposed this move by the time it was brought, “The problem is funding. When we still had Graduated Tax, it was contributing Shs80 billion and in some local governments, it was contributing up to 50 per cent of their total financing. It was replaced by Local Service and Hotel tax.
If you look at the figures, it only yielded Shs9 billion in all the districts. You cannot run districts like that. Do we have the resources to run these districts? At the moment districts, don’t have money to provide services to the people. In order to access services, you need service providers. But if you look at the figures in some districts, they have a staffing level of 7 per cent.
On average, all local governments have 40 per cent. This is crazy. You cannot split a local government unit which does not have even 20 per cent of the staff needed. Who will therefore provide services to the people? I know money is not enough but how is the budget being allocated?
What are the national priorities as a country? A few years ago, we reached a share of 34 per cent of the national budget going to the districts but it’s now 17 per cent. More money is staying in the centre and less is going to the local governments, yet its local governments delivering services to the people” said Hon Rafael Magyezi in an interview on 28 July 2012.
Felix Kayembe for local council Kyetume village said “If their argument to create new districts is to extend better services, let them just empower sub counties since sub counties are the local government units that are closer than the districts, I truly support the finance PS the question we have in Uganda are not about new districts, there is poverty, poor roads, lack of water, un employment, drugs in the hospitals.
But when you create 25 new districts that means you have created 50 districts because even the old are going to become new since all financial systems, district board, commissions are going to change which affects development and more finances will be need to facilitate this that why if you look at these new districts are not doing well”
According to the Oloka Onyango a scholar from the Research gate “Most districts have been created basing on the desires by the residents and the constitution 1st chapter gives them powers and if they deny their desires that would be termed as violation however this proliferation of new districts is a political strategy adopted by President Museveni as a means of dispensing patronage, and ultimately of splintering challenges to the central government supremacy and control.
Therefore new districts are directed to benefit a few local politicians who serve to reinforce central government’s political influence and not to ensure realization of socio-economic rights” According to the report by Action aid on The Dynamics of District Creation in Uganda, it highlighted that there are always minimal consultations in the processes that lead to creation of some new districts where things like physical infrastructures, ready qualified people to run the new districts and also finance to run these new districts are not majorly considered which end up straining the National budget since by 2020, Uganda will have 135 districts all of which require new budgets to finance administration and By the staffing composition.