By Davis Joel
The Health sector has emerged as the priority sector that most Ugandans want the government to invest in more resources in the next Financial year 2018/19.
According to the results of a pre-budget poll released by the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), 28.8% of Ugandans want increased investment in the health care, compared to the 12.0% that the government has planned for in FY 2018/19.
Whereas the government has planned the roads and energy sectors as its major priority areas for investment during the FY 2018/19, with a total of 53.6%, only 15.5% of Ugandans, are interested in investments for the two sectors, making them the least preferred
investment sectors by Ugandans.
The pre-budget survey carried out in 115 districts of Uganda, observed that 26.4% of Ugandans want increased investment in the education sector, compared to the 17.94% investment that the government has planned for the next financial year.
Addressing journalists about the findings of the poll, at the CSBAG office in Ntinda, Julius Mukunda, the Executive Director of CSBAG, said that people cannot stay without health and education sectors yet they are the key priority sectors that need investment, however, government says the biggest problem is roads.
Mukunda noted that the findings of the survey, are an eye opener to the government on the key areas it should consider for improved funding during the next financial year.
According to the National budget frame paper for the FY 2018/19, the government has cut the Health sector budget from 1.8 trillion shillings in the last financial year (FY2017/18) to 1.6 trillion for the next FY 2018/19.
He now says that the government has to rethink its investment priorities and what money is being spent on.
According to Wouter Dijkstra, the director Trac Fm, the organization that carried out the survey on behalf of CSBAG, the overall sample size of the poll was 5,175 and was spread over 115 districts across the country. With a sample Question “What do you want your government to do for you in the upcoming financial year 2018/19?”,
He says Ugandans responded by listing Health care as their key priority for the next financial year.
Wouter noted that the survey focused on five key sectors such as health, education, agriculture, roads and energy, which make up 61.3% of the total national budget. The survey which was conducted between January 20th and January 24th, was carried out in the nine sub regions of Buganda, Teso, Lango, Toro, Acholi, West Nile, Karamoja, Ankole and Busoga.
Mukunda said that the poll was primarily conducted to find out which sectors the citizens wanted government to focus on in the upcoming financial year. It should be noted that CSBAG, has over the years taken necessary steps to support government in ensuring that the
budgets at local and national levels, are participatory, pro-people and address the needs and aspirations of all Ugandans.
“Citizen participation in the budget process is key to enhancing budget accountability as well as making government more responsive,
effective, efficient in order to improve transparency in both utilization and accountability of public resources,” Mukunda said.
As a way forward, Mukunda called upon the government to re-asses its expenditure priorities and ensure that they directly serve the interests of the citizens to improve their quality of life and lift millions of Ugandans out of poverty.