The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Govt Report Names Underperforming Units

A new report has revealed the best and worst-performing ministries, with Education and Health getting the poorest scores.

The Government Annual Performance Report (GAPR) for financial year 2011/12 also gives an insight into why government ministries and departments usually fail to meet key targets. It shows that almost all ministries and government departments didn't meet their performance targets.

Titled, 'overview of the government performance reporting on service delivery', the report was recently released to journalists in Jinja by Dr Albert Byamugisha, a commissioner in charge of monitoring and evaluation in the office of the Prime Minister (OPM). The annual reports are meant to track the performance of government ministries and departments as well as their spending.

Dr Byamugisha said the performance reports, introduced recently, enable government to take corrective measures in cases where a ministry or department is under performing.

In a phone interview with The Observer at the weekend, Dr Byamugisha said performance was assessed based on indicators, set targets and spending against budget allocations, using 'a traffic light' performance system where green indicates achievement and red no achievement.

Agriculture, Education, Health:

According to the report, Agriculture, Education, Health, Lands, Housing and Urban Development as well as Water and Environment ministries were the worst performers The performance of the Agriculture sector was put at only 17 per cent, despite the central role the sector plays in the country's economy and poverty alleviation.

The poor performance is attributed to government's failure to release all the money allocated to the ministry. For instance, the report indicates that, the sector was allocated 434 billion shillings in the 2011/2012 budget. However, only 301 billion shillings was released to the ministry.

To make matters worse, some of the little money released was returned to the treasury. Out of Shs 301bn released to the ministry, only Shs 283bn was spent. This means nearly half of the money budgeted for was never spent.

Putting the figures into perspective, Kalungu West MP Joseph Ssewungu says even the money that was finally spent was spent on workshops and other consumptive expenditures and not investments for the benefit of farmers.

"There is no serious investment in agriculture; it is just Naads [National Agricultural Advisory Services] and other projects where most of the money is spent on trainings," he said.

Trailing Agriculture in poor performance is Education, whose performance was put at 20 per cent. This meant that 80 perc ent of the targets were missed by various degrees. This rating was strange given that 96 per cent of the budgeted resources were released and 95 per cent was actually spent.

According to the report, Education was allocated Shs 1.4 trillion in the 2011/2012 budget. Shs 1.3 trillion was released and 98 per cent of it spent. The question is why the dismal performance, yet almost all the budgeted funds were released. But Ssewungu says it seems the released money just goes through the ministry to somewhere else.

"We have 25 seed schools whose construction was started but was never completed, yet the contractors were paid all the money. That is why the output doesn't match the money spent," he explains.

Another worst performing sector is health. According to the report, the health sector achieved only 25 per cent of its targets. According to the budget, the sector was allocated Shs 804bn, although only Shs 605bn was released and spent. This means the sector didn't receive 25 per cent of its budgeted funds therefore creating a financial shortfall.

Consumptive expenditure:

Of recent, President Yoweri Museveni has insisted that his government is now prioritizing infrastructure development such as power dams, roads, schools and hospitals, ahead of consumptive expenditure.

During a teachers strike recently, the President reiterated that infrastructure development is a foundation of growth, stressing that there is no money for consumptive expenditure such as a pay rise for teachers. However, the performance report paints a different picture. As expenditures to the major sectors dwindled, consumptive expenditure soared.

For instance, Parliament, whose expenditure is mainly consumptive, exceeded its expenditures by about 100 per cent. The report indicates that Parliament was allocated 162 billion shillings but instead 255 was released and eventually spent. The additional money was spent in supplementary expenditures.

State House was allocated 63 billion shillings while 247 billion shillings was released and spent. The ministry of ICT also performed poorly, despite its budget performance exceeding what was allocated to the sector. The sector had been allocated Shs12.12bn and close to 13bn was released.

Ssewungu says, what normally happens is that the money is released towards the end of a quarter. Given that procurement processes take more than a month, the money is never spent and accordingly remitted back to the treasury. The same money is reallocated to consumptive expenditures to State House, Security, Parliament and other sectors through supplementary budgets.

However, Dr Byamugisha says the performance needs to be contextualized. "The report is about 2011, people should wait for 2013," he said stressing that some ministries could have improved.

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