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COVID hits Buganda’s finances, forces cutbacks on key spending lines

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COVID hits Buganda’s finances, forces cutbacks on key spending lines

Buganda Finance Minister Robert Wagwa Nsibirwa

Buganda kingdom has for the second consecutive year recorded a shortfall in its revenue, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing the Mengo administration to slash its expenditure to fit into the new harsh reality.

Robert Waggwa Nsibirwa, Buganda Kingdom’s Finance Minister also known in Luganda as Omuwanika w’enkuluze, said while presenting the Kingdom’s budget for the coming financial year 2021/2022 at Bulange, Mengo that they received UGX79bn down from last year’s UGX100bn.

He attributed the shortfall to the Covid-19 pandemic noting that the pandemic affected the kingdom’s main income streams such as land transactions carried out by Buganda Land Board arising from people’s inability to pay Busuulu and Envujjo.

Nsibirwa further pointed out that the closure of schools, another key income Source for the kingdom, hurt the kingdom’s finances.

Nsibirwa reported that in the just concluded financial year, they realised UGX8.5bn from school fees against a target of UGX15.3 billion.

The kingdom development partners brought in UGX 20.6 billion instead of the targeted UGX 32.2 billion.

Sports activities helped bring in UGX1.53 billion instead of a target of UGX31.6 billion. The kingdom received UGX 3.3 billion from government (debt) higher than the anticipated UGX3bn. It also collected UGX670.2m from Buganda certificates and kingdom portraits instead of the UGX 550 million.

The budget deficit according to Nsibirwa’s budget speech meant low expenditure on different programs compared to the kingdom’s target.

“For example, only UGX 295.4 million was spent on operations of Kabaka’s office and palace instead of UGX 361.2 million, UGX 4.5 billion was spent on Buganda Land Board instead of the UGX 11.06 billion, UGX 831 million was spent on completion of Kasubi tombs instead of UGX 1 billion, UGX11.7 billion on investments instead of UGX18.08 billion,” he said.

Nsibirwa said that despite the challenges related to COVID-19, the kingdom achieved some of their plans such as filling up positions in the Buganda Lukiiko, organizing the coronation and birthday celebrations of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, renovation of Bamunanika and Nkoni palaces, developing of the Legal Aid Policy by the Buganda Royal Law Chambers and others.

On how they intend to raise the projected 120.89 billion in the coming financial year 2021/2022 given shortfalls in the previous year budgets, Nsibirwa noted that they have put in place systems to engage more in digital economy.

The Kingdom collects the funds from envujjo, busuulu, kanzu, debt payment from the Central government, student fees payments, development partners, sports activities, Buganda certificates and kingdom portraits, communication stations, tourism and cooperatives, among others. In turn, the collected funds finance different key kingdom activities that are always highlighted in the budget.

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