Uganda: Concern as Govt Cuts Funding to Districts

The government has directed districts across the country to stop budgeting for funds received under the Discretionary Development Equalisation Grant (DDEG) effective the next financial year starting July 1.

The main objective of DDEG is to distribute resources more equitably across and within districts so that those, which are less developed, are supported to catch up with others.

But last month, government wrote to the districts, which were benefitting from DDEG that this money would no longer be available. Instead, the government said it is introducing the new Parish Development Model where funds will be sent directly to the parishes instead of sub-counties, effective July 1.

However, some districts, especially those in northern Uganda, are worried that this will stall their development.

One such district is Otuke, which used to receive Shs200 million under DDEG every financial year.

Mr Gasper Okello, the district speaker, said this money used to go towards infrastructure projects, among them, the construction of the district headquarters.

Mr Okello said they have been building the district offices in phases over the last five years and the removal of the funding will see the project stall.

The district speaker said they had also planned to renovate Ogor and Barocok primary schools, all in Barjobi Sub-county, using funds from DDEG. Right now, he said, the renovation of the schools is in jeopardy.

Mr Okello also said the district had planned to construct the road that stretches from Otuke Town Council up to Oreme market, among others. However, all these roads will not be worked on because of the removal of DDEG, the district speaker added.

"Our prayer to the government is that they should bring back the DDEG, otherwise, it will not only cause problems to Otuke but it will also become a security matter, because when we fail to work on our bad roads, it will incite the community against the government," Mr Okello told Daily Monitor on Monday.

The removal of DDEG has also affected the implementation of a number of projects in Kwania, Alebtong, Dokolo and Apac districts, all in Lango Sub-region.

As a result, Kwania District councillors are now asking the government to revise the decision to scrap DEG.

Mr George Akaca, the councillor representing Aduku Town Council, said the government should reinstate DDEG since Kwania is still a young district. Kwania, which was carved out of Apac District, became operational in July 2018.

"We have now written to the government to reinstate DDEG but if our request is not accepted, implementation of the activities within the district is going to be very difficult. Other projects, which we were implementing in phases under DDEG, will also stall," he said.

Ms Albina Awor, the chief administrative officer of Kwania, said the removal of DDEG will derail their capital development since the district does not collect enough local revenue.

"It has affected us badly and that was the only capital development grant that we had, which is discretionary, and we were building our office block using that money," she said.

In Apac, the authorities have also written to the government requesting for the reversal of the decision to remove DDEG.

"We have been using this grant for building classrooms, putting up buildings at health centres and also running part of council activities. This time, the community will blame us because there will not be any development," Mr Peter Obong Acuda, the district speaker, said.

Finance minister Matia Kasaija was not available to comment on the matter by press time, but last week, he told MPs on the Budget Committee that the government plans to merge the existing seven wealth creation programmes to finance the new model.

Compiled by Bill Oketch, Santo Ojok & Patrick Ebong

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