By Paul Edotu
Government should roll out 100million per parish cash disbursement and mobilise more funding for other pillars of the Parish Development Model (PDM) which require high investment costs.
The parish development model is indeed an all-inclusive program as designed this time round. Like I had alluded to in my Article of 28/2/2022, this program has managed to galvanise all ministries, departments and government agencies to tackle poverty in all forms and everywhere in Uganda.
The PDM program has also managed in the same breath to marry central government with local governments throughout Uganda, the Parish being the domicile of that marriage. It must be recalled that, planning in Uganda is a bottom up approach and the parish has been a hub of that process whereby village Councils would generate people’s needs and congregate at the parish where prioritization is done. If you relate it with human production, a parish was a point of conception or pregnancy. The priorities so generated at the parish would then be delivered by the parish chief to the sub county for consideration and consolidation into the plan and budget of the sub county, which in turn transmits to the District and the district to the Central Government.
It must also be recalled that throughout the planning process at all levels/ stages that’s from the village, parish, Sub County up to the district, there were a lot of unfunded priorities, we used to call them orphaned priorities, that’s those which don’t attract immediate funding due to budget constraints of the local governments. This scenario used to attract frustration among the local people and caused apathy in participating yearly in needs identification because the argument was what about the unfunded priorities or balances which we identified and were not funded.
It’s against that background that I have analysed the design of the parish development model and come up with very compelling recommendations to the following effect.
- That the UGX 100Million government has earmarked to disburse by 1st July 2022 put first and foremost is a very good start with each sub county almost getting 600-700million annually. However, these funds could be used to kick start intensive and extensive agricultural production and financial inclusion as explained by H.E the President at the launch of the program at Kibuku district, with each beneficiary getting at least 1million Uganda shillings for a given enterprise.
2 . Since the needs under the other pillars are high capital intensive, mother ministries, departments and government agencies working with the relevant parish, district local governments can from time to time enter into partnership for purposes of accomplishing such projects. However H.E the President’s desire for funds to be disbursed straight to the parish has to be born in mind.
Under this arrangement, the Parishes will remain as a point of needs identification and planning, they can identify their infrastructural needs, roads, bridges, schools and health facilities, production and market infrastructure, needing building or rehabilitation. The ministry concerned together with the local government budget and implement, the project but the funds should be allocated to that particular parish and released thereat by the ministry of finance. The question of capacity to plan, budget, account and reporting rests with the district subject matter specialist that’s, District health officer, district engineer, production officer, district education officer among others. Remember section 35 of the Local governments Act Cap 243 provides that ;
(1) The district council shall be the planning authority of a district.
(2)The district planning authority shall, in addition to the procedures it establishes for itself, work according to the guidelines established by the National Planning Authority.
(3)The district council shall prepare a comprehensive and integrated development plan incorporating plans of lower level local governments for submission to the National Planning Authority, and lower level local governments shall prepare plans incorporating plans of lower councils in their respective areas of jurisdiction.
From the above, its clear that its possible under the PDM for the district to concentrate on its technical role of planning while, the parish beneficiaries receive their money and pay for their goods and services once they are convinced about the quality and quantity thereof.
- As far as the original mandate of the central government is concerned and that of the district such will remain as usual namely the centre will look after national roads as the districts look after district roads, central government will handle power needs, referral hospitals as the district looks at district hospitals and environmental health and so on and so forth. Like I had said at the preamble, the PDM has created a real marriage between the centre and Local governments. For long, local governments were saying the central government has remained with more resources so now under the PDM both are feeding from the same consolidated fund, the parish draws money directly from Mr. Ngobi’s account in the Ministry of finance, isn’t this what ULGA and all local governments have been clamoring for?
- Some people have suggested that the PDM should be sensitive to social indicators of each district in disbursement of funds, that’s is poor districts should receive more. But I think let it take a needs or demand driven approach. Naturally if you have needs you will ask for support and vice versa. There has also been an argument on performance based funding. That districts or entities of government receive funding based on their performance on given indicators. This as well is not bad because it all comes to the same argument of responding naturally to the need to be better. However there will be need to tackle root causes of poor performance if it crops up either through training, retooling or mindset change.
- Others with leave.
In conclusion therefore, once again I wish to reiterate as student of public policy that the PDM is indeed an overeaching development framework which has potential to transform Uganda from largely subsistence economy to a modern upper middle income country once we adopt it as a country wide sector and national program in addition to committing huge amounts of resources to the realisation of each pillar. Donor support, support of civil society and private sector should as well be generated around the PDM.
The author is Cadre, an Administrator and Public Policy expert, Social Worker and Paralegal.