The Uganda Local Government Association- ULGA has proposed reforms
aimed at strengthening the decentralization policy.
Uganda’s decentralization policy was first introduced in 1997 under the Local
Government Act that has since undergone several amendments. The policy
fundamentally decentralized service delivery institutions and their governance to
improve access to services for the rural poor.
Gertrude Rose Gamwera, the Association Secretary-General says that a review of
the decentralization policy is long overdue since it had been previously a call
by ULGA. She was speaking during a review meeting organized by Action Aid and
ULGA in Kampala.
Gamwera argues that the current policy has been curtailing efforts by Local
Governments to deliver effectively as expected under their Constitutional
mandate which calls for the transfer of power to local government to be able to
implement different programs.
She added that under the current practice, money is collected by local
governments and then sent to the Central Government to determine a specific
amount that should be sent back to offer services.
Gamwera proposed that Local Governments need to be given power and discretion
to be able to plan and decide with their communities so that they equally
participate in planning and the implementation of projects.
“There is a narrative that local governments have failed to implement
government programs due to lack of capacity but this is as a result of
undermining the due processes. The implementation of projects by government
agencies and Ministries should also be revised since it’s the role of local
governments to carry out the implementation,” Gamwera explained.
She cited a need for vibrant, well-funded Local Governments that will churn out
policies passed by councils and eventually help in the implementation of
national policies. Gamwera also says that local governments which she described
as implementers should be allowed to play their role as stipulated in the
Gamwera also says that there is also a need to look at other laws especially
the Public Finance Management Act which takes away the power of local
governments when it comes to financial planning.
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ULGA Chairperson, Joseph Lamonyang called on the government to
also consider increasing the budgetary allocations to Local governments from 9%
of the national budget to 38% if the decentralization policy is to be effective
and improve on service delivery.
Lamonyang says that most government programs can't be fully implemented due to
lack of adequate budgetary allocations.
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ULGA Vice Chairperson Patrick Kayemba noted that even though they welcome the
move to review the decentralization policy, they have advocated for this for
the past 15 years and that there has been the partial implementation of both
the administrative and political roles in the decentralization policy yet the
fiscal implementation has been ignored.
Kayemba says that as the government is carrying out its review, there is a need
to understand why the government has deliberately not implemented this policy.