Uganda: MPs Query Shs490b Budget for Parish Model Project

Lawmakers on the Budget Committee have questioned government's planned expenditure of Shs490b under the new Parish Model project that is meant to eradicate poverty among 68 per cent households across the country.

While defending the budget estimates for the Financial Year 2021/2022, Finance minister Matia Kasaija said the money is meant to benefit 10,460 households across the country and each parish would get about Shs40b for agricultural production.

However, lawmakers declined to approve the money, demanding a detailed list of the number of households per parish and the criteria used to identify the beneficiaries.

"... give us real data. Without the data, we can't approve the expenditure," said Mr Patrick Isiagi Opolot (NRM, Kachumbala County).

"They have to show us the research they have done, they must give us the data on how many households there are in a parish, how the money is going to benefit the households and the interventions," Mr Isiagi added.

Mr Charles Ngabirano, (NRM, Rwampara County) said the money should be spent on value addition and securing markets for farmers' produce.

"So we are saying let them go back, conduct research, look at lessons learnt, and consult all stakeholders on how to add value to the farmers' produce, instead of coming here without analysing the project," Mr Ngabirano said.

Mr Kasaija had earlier informed the committee members that the Shs490b is needed to promote inclusive and sustainable growth through effective implementation of the parish model.

He said this will enable transformation of 68 per cent households, who are still engaged in subsistence agriculture, to commercialisation and result in an increased income for rural communities.

The minister also said it will create opportunities for the manufacturing and service sectors to grow due to increased demand for goods and services.

The chairperson of the Budget Committee, Mr Amos Lugoloobi (NRM, Ntegeru County), said they have given Mr Kasaija up to tomorrow to report back with detailed information.

"Even without this parish model, people are producing a lot of maize, matooke, milk and tomatoes, and they have nowhere to sell them. Some regional markets are closing their boarders such as Kenya, South Sudan and Rwanda. Our products cannot easily be sold there. We need to start with these fundamental problems," he said.

In an interview with Daily Monitor after the meeting, the chairperson of the National Planning Authority (NPA), Ms Pamela Mbabazi, said MPs should consider approving the money, saying it is meant to improve the livelihood of Ugandans. "We have not had enough time to discuss and engage with them. You had them speak about the principal of bringing the government closer to the people being right. The decision has been made to use this parish model as a vehicle of bringing the government closer to the people," Ms Mbabazi said.

"There are six pillars in this model we did not explain to them and we are going to use the seminar approach to explain to them on Thursday (tomorrow) when we come back. It is a new opportunity of helping Ugandans and this will improve household incomes," she added.

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