The Committee on Public Service and Local Government appalled by the consistent plea for Parliament’s intervention in their financing woes, have advised the local governments to seek audience with the President.
The Secretary of Local Government Finance Commission (LGFC) while appearing before the committee on Thursday, 17 February 2022, said there were unnecessary delays in release of funds meant to operationalise the new town councils and sub-counties in the Financial Year 2021/2022.
“It is not clear why all supplementary appropriations have not been released to local governments by the third quarter. Therefore, the new town councils and sub-counties are not yet effectively operating,” said Babale.
He said that even when districts generate local revenues and remit to the Consolidated Fund, they still suffer delays. “At least four districts have no appropriations for local revenues in the 2021/2022 Financial Year, implying that even when they collect and remit to the Consolidated Fund, they cannot access funds,” Babale said.
“It is a constitutional mandate of the commission to advise the President on the financing of local governments. These issues can be solved when the President is clearly advised since he is also a Minister of Finance,” said Isaac Modoi (NRM, Lutseshe County).
Babale further noted that local governments are further aggrieved by line ministries which in total disregard of the law on decentralisation, bypass districts and implement projects directly.
“There is a continuing disagreement for line ministries to continue designing and implementing projects in local government. Line ministries should stop implementing programmes and projects in local governments without their involvement from the start,” said Babale.
He added: “Decentralised functions should be left for local governments to implement.”
The committee chairperson, also Aringa North MP, Hon Godfrey Onzima, castigated the central government’s motive for usurping the powers of local governments.
“The role of a ministry is to supervise local governments. Now if you go ahead and do the work, who will supervise you?” asked Onzima.
Onzima said during his committee’s oversight visits in some districts, he had observed that even when money is sent to districts, they do not not have the liberty to spend or control how it is spent.
“Ministries are abrogating the law and their decisions are driven by corruption – you find local governments do not have direct authority over monies they receive,” said Onzima.
He added: “We have gone to the field where there are projects which are managed by local governments but are controlled from the centre. The local governments just get directives to pay.”
Babale said the LGFC is pushing for government to make a provision where the districts are allowed to utilise the local revenue as opposed to sending it to the Consolidated Fund. He said this revenue would rescue local governments which are stuck with projects that are crucial for service delivery.
The committee in a related development is processing a motion passed by Parliament in 2021 for local governments to determine how to utilise locally generated revenues.
The motion was moved by Wakiso District Woman MP, Hon Ethel Naluyima who sought reversal of a government directive that required local governments to remit these monies to the Consolidated Fund.
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