The Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda has urged local governments to urgently streamline their activities and efforts towards improving service delivery in the country.
The Premier said effective this financial year Government has provided resources to enable Resident District Commissioners (RDC’s) monitor the implementation of Government programmes in their respective local governments.
Rugunda made the remarks while opening a workshop on service delivery in local governments at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Monday at the beginning of the Government retreat on budget performance for financial year 2013/14 and budget strategy for financial year 2015/16 which runs until Friday.
He said Uganda’s economy had expanded over the last two decades and the households had increased their incomes leading to a reduction in poverty levels from 56% in 1992 to 19.7% in 2014
“The progress Uganda has achieved is a reflection of the correct government policies that have been implemented in the past, ” Rugunda said, adding that these policies had led to the growth and stability of the economy but also created demand for greater infrastructure and social services.
He said some of the development challenges could be addressed by among other measures creating an enabling environment for private sector investment and enhancing production and productivity in primary growth sectors which could in turn create jobs and lead to economic growth.
Dr Rugunda however, said concerns on service delivery had been raised in the education sector over the declining quality of basic education and absenteeism by teachers.
He also highlighted the critical shortage key professional staff such as medical workers and engineers in addition to the challenge of shoddy works in infrastructure development and misuse of public resources.
The Premier said the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries had been tasked to come up with implementation guidelines for the restructured National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS)
“Government is committed to move beyond poverty eradication to real development and wealth creation for every household as per Vision 2040,” said the Premier.
Minister for Finance Planning and Economic Development, Hon Maria Kiwanuka applauded Parliament for passing the Public Finance Management Bill, a development she said will enhance service delivery since consideration and approval of the budget by Parliament will be handled prior to the beginning of the financial year.
Her Permanent Secretary Keith Muhakanizi pm his part, highlighted measures undertaken to strengthen public financial management and accountability in Government such as improving the security of the integrated financial management system and implementation of the treasury single account.
He also said through decentralization of the budgeting and payment of salaries and pension, the Ministry saved about 100 billion in the first quarter of this financial year by eliminating ghost staff on the government pay roll.
Muhakanizi also said school capitation grants releases will be aligned to the school academic calendar starting with the first term of 2015. He added that they had eliminated about 500,000 ghost students.
The President Uganda Local Government Association (ULGA) and also Chairperson Jinja District, Fredrick Gume Ngobi urged government to increase allocations to local governments from the current 16% to at least 38% of the total national budget for effective service delivery in local governments.
He also asked Government to provide additional funds to local governments to enable them fill up the critical positions and increase staffing to at least 65% to enhance performance.