By Joel Davis
Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development (MOFPED) has pledged to engage with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to ensure that management committee in schools, health centres, and local government deliver services effectively.
The pledge was made by the finance ministry official at a dissemination workshop of the FY 2016/17 annual monitoring report organized by Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG).
Speaking at the event, Mr. Robert Ssekatte, Principal Economist at the Ministry of Finance said: “Government appreciates the work of CSOs at all levels in terms of monitoring the implementation of projects as well as providing recommendations towards the improvement of service delivery in the country.”
The CSOs that carried out the monitoring process included Uganda Debt Network (UDN), Rwenzori Anti- Corruption Coalition (RAAC), Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), and Sebei Diocese Community for Development (SD-CODE) among others.
Julius Mukunda, the Executive Director, CSBAG said that the purpose of the CSO budget monitoring process was to assess the effectiveness of government expenditure in selected districts, to assess the timeliness in receipt of funds and adequacy of staffing by selected primary schools and Health Centres.
He added that it was also important to display budget information, to assess functionality of Water and Sanitation at schools and Health Centres as well as receipt of pension funds for selected individuals within the district.
The FY 2016/17 annual monitoring report indicates that in the education sector, out of the 579 primary schools monitored, 413,510 pupils were enrolled.
Of these, 209,127 (50.57%) were female while 204,383 (49.43%) were male pupils. The teacher to pupil ratio was unevenly distributed across the quarters at 1:240, 1:47, 1:57 for quarters 2, 3 and 4 respectively. This would give an annual average of 1:115, which is too high when compared to the national average of 1:43. This implies that teachers are not in position to provide the required attention to each pupil when needed, contributing to the increasing illiteracy levels.
In the health sector, 6,657 live births and 291still births were registered in all the health centres monitored. Health facilities monitored had received timely drug consignments from the National Medical Stores performing at 80.4%, 100% and 90% for quarters 1, 2, and 4 respectively and a total of 29,092 children were immunized with the pentavalent vaccine for the entire FY2016/2017.
However, an increment was recorded in the number of live births and a fall in the number of still births. Additionally, health centres attend to more out-patients than in-patients. The patient: physician ratio was 1,578:1 271:1 319:1 and 391:1 in the first, second, third, and fourth quarter respectively. In view of these gaps, there is need for government to train, sensitize and recruit more health workers to reduce the existing ratio.
Out of the 24 number of pensioners, 16 have received their pensions while 8 have not, indicating that the Ministry of Public Service should guide Local Governments to clean up files of pensioners, while MOFPED should penalize accounting officers that accumulate pension arrears.
Mesach Byomuntara, the Program Officer, Rwenzori Anti-Corruption Coalition, said that the budget monitoring process has not only improved timely accountability at the different service centres but also increased the level of information sharing by schools, health centres, and local governments. Information has become readily available for public review.
Lucas Chelongat, the Executive Director, Sebei Diocese Community for Development (SD-CODE)added that the budget monitoring process has also increased the level of transparency and accountability within service delivery centres.
“Schools and hospitals have become more transparent for example Kapsirikwo Primary School in Kaserem Sub County, Kapchorwa district has started producing financial reports to be reviewed by parents, government, and other stakeholders.” Said Chelongat.
Eva Masiko, Chief of Party- GAPP Program, RTI commended CSBAG for engaging in advocacy work that deals with complicated issues and thanked MOFPED for becoming more responsive and open to working with CSOs.
CSOs that carried out the monitoring process were; Teso Anti-corruption Coalition (TAC), Kibaale Civil Society Network (KCSON), Sebei Diocese Community for Development (SD-CODE), Kanungu Community Efforts for Rural Transformation (KACOERT), Anti-Corruption Coalition of Busoga (ACCOB), Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), Action Aid Uganda (AAU), Action for Development (ACFODE), Community Based Monitoring and Evaluation System (CBMES), Forum for Community Transformation (FCT), Recreation for Development and Peace (RDP), Uganda Debt Network (UDN), The Apac Anti-Corruption Coalition (TAACC), Strategic Organization for Real Action Kampala (SORAK), and Rwenzori Anti-Corruption Coalition (RACC).