Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija
Parliament has yet again deferred the proposal by the government to introduce a Parish development model that seeks to empower Ugandans economically in the 10,594 parishes.
The model is a strategy being fronted by the Government in the next financial year for organizing and delivering public and private sector interventions for wealth creation and employment generation at the parish level as the lowest economic planning unit.
The 404 Billion Shillings program will see each of the 10,594 parishes get 39 Million Shillings in a revolving fund. The program like many others before is intended to lift Ugandans out of subsistence economy to the money economy, but this time around, new Parish Chiefs will be hired to manage the fund.
However, after Parliament deferred the matter last week asking the Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija to rectify some issues in the funding of the program, operation, and implementation among others the matter has again been deferred.
Although Kasaija returned with some changes, the MPs again rejected it, asking Kasaija to go back and return.
The Ministry of Finance had bowed to pressure and retained the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Program (UWEP) fund for women and Youth Livelihood funds under the Ministry of Gender Labor and social development.
Kasaija said that the youth and women funds will remain under the Ministry of Gender over a transition period to the parish model and this will last for two financial years. He pleaded in vain for members to approve the funding.
With the UWEP fund and the Youth Livelihood fund remaining at the Ministry of Gender, the government plans to disband Operation Wealth Creation, Peace Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) and Luwero Rwenzori Development Program to create the parish model program.
Robert Kafero Ssekitoleko the Nakifuma county MP supported the model but asked that it should be revised.
He proposed that the budget committee of Parliament should be empowered to cut funds from non-performing areas, but not picking money from performing areas.
Butambala MP, Muwanga Kivumbi says that the parish model as proposed has already affected regions differently, with areas like Acholi, Teso and Busoga losing funds through the withdrawal of PRDP, Operation Wealth creation, Uganda Women’s Entrepreneurship program among others.
Francis Mwijukye, the Buhweju County MP says that the project has taken away over 50 billion shillings for seedlings, and it will end up affecting areas under affirmative action. He says the Minister is not working in the interest of Ugandans.
Richard Oseku, the MP Kibale County says that the parish model assumes that the poverty level is the same throughout the country, and therefore implementing it will build the economy. He says there is a need for further study.
Gilbert Olanya, the Kilak South MP said the move is meant to benefit a few Ugandans in the Ministry of finance.
Moses Ali, the First Deputy Prime Minister advised that the Minister of Finance and Budget Committee settle the issues raised like the study for the funding.
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga called on Government to look for funding from somewhere else and not stifle funding for affirmative action. She said that the model program is good project but it is being rushed.
He advised the government side to reconcile the matter and return to Parliament.