|Mr Keith Meeting WRA team in his office. Photo by Faridah Luyiga|
|Faridah Mwanje after handling over WRA materials to Mr. Keith|
Budget Transparency and Accountability: WRA-Ug meeting with Mr. Keith Muhakanizi Permanent Secretary/Secretary to the Treasury-Ministry of Finance, Planning & Economic Development. The aim of the meeting was to discuss a collaboration for making budget information available and accessible to citizens especially at district level. This is in line with WRA's citizen empowerment approach to monitor and track budget expenditures for Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care services at their health centres.
"Ministry of Finance is happy and ready to partner and work with WRA and CSOs and provide all the necessary budget information. Our goal is to ensure that citizens are aware about their budget so that they are able to hold us accountable on fund releases and expenditures by ministries and districts," Muhakanizi pledges.
Ministry of Finance in the FY 2014/15 identified Budget transparency and accountability as one of the key interventions to strengthen institutional governance, accountability and transparency in public service delivery. Other interventions being undertaken to improve service delivery include:
- Publication of quarterly fund releases to ministries and Local Governments (both online and print media)
- Decentralization of the pay roll for civil servants
- Creation of a Uganda Budget Information Website, meant to enable citizens to access budget information of resources allocated and utilized up to the local level
- The ministry plans to establish an SMS platform and a phone Hotline for public feedback on budget utilization
- The ministry also conducts quarterly and annual budget monitoring and accountability through its Budget Monitoring and Accountability Unit and at effective implementation of Government programmes and projects.
All the above are well-intentioned interventions to improve budget accountability and transparency but the question we should all ask ourselves is-how many people (citizens) are aware of these opportunities so that they can effectively participate in their budgets monitoring and expenditure tracking? It is often challenging to the community members to access budget information especially at district and sub-county level under the guise of confidentiality! Citizens need to be empowered to know their rights to access such information but also to use it in executing their obligation of monitoring and tracking utilization of the funds.
Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development should strengthen the budget accountability and transparency by investing in grass-root budget information dissemination and empowerment of citizens with skills to monitor the budgets and tracking expenditures.