Nakaseke district’s local leaders have appealed to the Leader of the Opposition to intervene and prevent the ongoing process of centralizing government services.
The leaders argue that the government’s abandonment of the decentralization policy, which was introduced in 1992, has left them powerless and unable to provide essential services to the communities.
During a recent oversight tour at Nakaseke district headquarters, the local leaders expressed their concerns to the Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga. They emphasized that the local governments have lost their authority and are now merely spectators in decision-making processes.
One of the major challenges highlighted by Benjamin Makanga, the Nakaseke District Secretary for Works, is the financial regulations imposed by the Integrated Financial Management System. Under these regulations, all local revenue collected by the local governments must be deposited into a special account at the Bank of Uganda. However, obtaining authorization from the Accountant General to utilize these funds often proves time-consuming, resulting in missed opportunities to address key challenges faced by the local communities. Furthermore, the leaders lamented that most of the funds allocated to them are conditional grants, limiting their autonomy in deciding how to utilize the funds.
Engineer Fredrick Kakooza, the LC 3 Chairman of Kasangombe sub-county, also raised concerns about the difficulties in accessing local revenue to address pressing issues. He mentioned the overgrown bushes in the sub-counties, emphasizing that they lack the necessary funds to hire workers for clearing operations.
Allan Mayanja Ssebunya, the Nakaseke Central Member of Parliament, criticized the government’s policies for rendering local leaders redundant. Ssebunya noted that despite Parliament passing a resolution last year urging the government to reconsider the practice of depositing local revenue in the Bank of Uganda, no action has been taken to implement this resolution, leaving the local leaders frustrated.
In response to these grievances, Mpuuga acknowledged that the government’s failure to adhere to the decentralization policy has severely impacted service delivery. He cited delayed disbursement of funds as a major issue, pointing out that the government releases a smaller portion of the local revenue collected by the local governments. Mpuuga assured the local leaders that their complaints would be taken into account during the opposition’s drafting of constitutional amendments, which are being conducted in response to public demands.
In the meantime, Mpuuga encouraged the leaders to defy the directive on centralized revenue, citing the resolution passed by Parliament in their support.
The Ministry of Finance maintains that the financial regulations were implemented to enhance transparency, expedite operations, standardize chart of accounts, and facilitate monitoring and reporting.
Earlier this year, the Minister of Local Government, Raphael Magyezi, called for an urgent review of the decentralization policy. Magyezi requested a budget of Shs3 billion in the financial year 2023/24 to conduct a comprehensive national review of the governance system’s decentralization aspects.