State Minister for Local Government, Jennifer Namuyangu
By Francis Otucu
Government has prioritized parishes as a centre for people-centred development.
Consequently, the roles and functions of Parish Chiefs are set to be revamped as Local Governments implement the 2021-2026 manifesto.
Explaining this on Tuesday at the OPM auditorium while reviewing the progress of the 2016-2021 NRM manifesto, the State Minister for Local Government, Jennifer Namuyangu, said the idea implicitly raises the mandates of Parish Chiefs beyond the traditional role of revenue collection.
“This will entail facilitation of Parish chiefs in routine parish data collection, development of Parish Plans, and monitoring all services delivered in the Parish. In the new Manifesto Period, the Ministry will strengthen the Parish level to cater for the added responsibilities for Parish Model Implementation,” Namuyangu explained.
The Minister said the absence of Critical Staff in the LGs to deliver decentralised services remain a key challenge, largely attributed to inadequate wage bill for Staff Recruitment.
Currently, she revealed that the average staffing levels stand at 56% and 51% for District and Municipal Councils respectively.
She further reported that a number of Local Governments have dilapidated office blocks.
She said due to dwindling Local Resources, LGs are unable to address the office accommodation challenge.
Following the recently concluded polls, Namuyangu says most of these elected local leaders are not aware of how to run Public Offices.
To this, she says the Ministry needs Shs17bn to carry out Induction of Local Government Leaders.
Namuyangu says the LG leaders face a challenge of monitoring Government programs due to lack of Transport. She says the categories affected are: Vehicles for City and Municipal Councils Mayors, as well as Chief Administrative Officers and Town Clerks.
The minister says her ministry had accumulated arrears totaling to Shs36 billion due to inadequate budget provision.
She adds that these are mainly arrears on VAT, counterpart for Projects and outstanding payment for Contractors.
Delayed payments has resulted in Court cases leading to Court awards, thus affecting the Ministry MTEF Ceilings and consequently impacting negatively on service delivery, she added.
Since FY 2016/17 when new administrative units were created, Namuyangu said they have never received operational funds.
This, she says, is a big challenge to the Government. She says there are 356 New Town Councils and 377 new Sub counties.
“We need a minimum of UGX 110.4Bn,” she says.
However, Namuyangu believes that strengthening the operations/functions of Parish Chiefs coupled with the proposed parish model system, will help increase local revenue.
By and large, Namuyangu says her ministry delivered 77% of the 2016-2021 manifesto.
“I would like to register my sincere appreciation to all stakeholders, without whom the salient Manifesto achievement of 77% wouldn’t have been registered. The Ministry and LG Fraternity is wholly committed to address the challenges and also deliver on the new Manifesto and the National Development Plan III,” she said.