The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Maria Kiwanuka on Thursday presented the 2012/2013 financial year budget, putting more emphasis on what she calls priority sectors including Education, Roads, Energy, Agriculture, Water and Health.
The sector with the largest amount of money budgeted for it this year is Education in a budget whose 75 percent will be funded domestically with money collected by the Uganda Revenue Authority, a further improvement from the 70 percent of last year.
The remaining 25 percent will be funded by foreign donors.
Out of a total of 11.15 trillion shillings, Kiwanuka has given the Ministry of Education 1.669 trillion shillings, representing 17 percent of the total envelope. The Road sector will take the second biggest amount of money; 1.6 trillion shillings, from the 1.2 trillion that was budgeted for the sector in the last financial year.
The minister said that out of the education sector budget, 290 billion shillings will go towards funding a salary enhancement for primary teachers and science teachers in Secondary schools.
But the Health, Energy and Water did not have their specific allocations mentioned by the minister.
Agriculture was given 585.3 billion shillings in direct and indirect allocations.
The theme for this year’s budget is “Priorities for Renewed Economic Growth and Development”.
Kiwanuka said that the overall Gross Domestic Product for next financial year is projected to be 3.2 percent, with positive signs that the economy will turn around, as long as challenges that affect supply are addressed. She explained that the solutions lie in budget prioritisation, improving value for money and better coordination across government sectors.
She said that inflation was easing and the exchange rate of the Uganda Shilling has stabilized since last year when she advised the MPs and government officials to tighten their belts for a tough economic time. She said she was happy to report that the advice had yielded positive steps.
Kiwanuka said the priority of the next financial year would be lowering the cost of doing business in Uganda so that the private sector, which President Yoweri Museveni said was the most important part of the economy, can contribute to generating more production and employ more educated youths.
The Private Sector Foundation immediately praised the budget as addressing the real economic growth demands in the country. Gideon Badagawa, the Executive Director of the Private Sector Foundation Uganda, said that the country’s economy would grow well in the next year as long as the Production and Consumption sector is targeted positively.
But he warned that the budget would not be good if implementation fails.
Badagawa said he was happy with the President’s decision to re-introduce the Presidential Economic Council Initiative, which he said would bridge the gap between private business persons and government through creating an avenue for discussion of economic issues.
However, the opposition Shadow Finance Minister, Geoffrey Ekanya said he did not see any substantial positive change in the budget for last year and this year. Ekanya said that if there is anything good that has come out of this year’s budget, it was a revelation by government that the economy has contracted.
Last year’s total envelope stood at 11 trillion shillings, an amount Ekanya says does not reflect the economic growth of 3.2 percent that Kiwanuka presented.
Ekanya said that for Agriculture as a sector to only be given about 3.3 percent of the budget was also a wrong move because the sector employs the biggest number of Ugandans as farmers.
He also criticized Kiwanuka’s budget for increasing the Pay as You Earn – PAYE threshold for teachers to 235,000 shillings, which he says will still affect the teachers’ take home pay.