ULGA Calls for Reforms in Decentralization Policy

Gertrude Rose Gamwera, the Association Secretary-General argues that the current policy has been curtailing efforts by Local Governments to deliver services effectively
15 Oct 2020 08:29

Audio 3

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 Constitution. 

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.

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