The World Bank country manager, Tony Thompson, has held discussions with Parliament Speaker, Hon Rebecca Kadaga to brief her on the Bank’s ongoing program and secure her support on the proposed financing of government projects.
Mr Thompson, was accompanied by several World Bank Team leaders overseeing programmes relating to forced displacement, agriculture, water, social protection, and the macro-economics trade and investment.
In his remarks, Mr Thompson appreciated the Speaker for her leadership and the important oversight role that Parliament roles in enacting laws, shaping development policy and holding government accountable for public investments, including those financed by the World Bank, to ensure they deliver value for money for citizens.
“Our role in Uganda is very much overseen and approved by your team in parliament, and I wanted to make sure you are fully informed of the work we are doing, and how it aligns with development agenda,” said Thompson.
He added: “We want also to understand what your priorities and concerns are. And sometimes, there are tough issues, but we are open to engage in a positive and transparent way so that understand also where we are coming from”.
Notwithstanding our engagement, he emphasized that Government will continue leading the interface with Parliament – including submitting projects for approval and reporting on the results and impact of Bank-financed projects.
The World Bank’s current portfolio, largely financed from IDA, stands at $3 billion (credits and grants) covering 20 national and 6 regional operations.
There are currently four projects pending parliamentary approval totaling $880 million, namely: the Social Risk Management and GBV Prevention and Response Project ($40m) and Uganda Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers Program ($200m); the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development Additional Finance ($360m) and; Integrated Water Management and Development Project ($280).
“We are creating a lot of work for you and your colleagues, but this also shows the depth of the engagement we have in Uganda,” he said.
On her part, the Speaker welcomed the World Bank’s support to the country and willingness to engage with Parliament and pledged support for ratification of Bank-financed projects.
She also highlighted several areas of interest including regular sharing of information and knowledge resources with parliament to inform decision-making, and highlighted investment in water transport, and support to host communities to prevent and mitigate environmental degradation as critical areas of interest to Parliament.
“What I can say about Parliament is that unless counterpart funding is provided, we will not approve any loans. Projects experience many delays because of this, and sometimes we end up incurring penalties (for loans not Financed by the Bank),” said Kadaga.
Shortly after the courtesy call on the Speaker, the Bank team held a separate meeting with members of the Parliamentary Network of the World Bank and the IMF (PN) – the Bank’s main interlocutor with the Parliament which has existed since 2006 and comprises 41 members.
The Parliamentary Network commended the Bank for the success achieved under various projects, singling out the USMID, NUSAF, agriculture and the water projects as very transformative and enabling rural development.
The network pledged to deepen their engagement with the Bank.
As part of their work, the PN is expected to make a presentation to Parliament reporting on its activities and engagement with the World Bank and the IMF, and this provides a great entry point to further our engagement with the members, said the chair, Hon Elijah Okupa, MP for Kasilo county and a member of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee.