Parliament last week passed the Budget, with hopes of projected economic growth at 6.3 per cent and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at 7 per cent, surpassing earlier projections.
In a report to aid the consideration of the Appropriation Bill, 2019, which operationalises the budget and contains allocations, Budget Committee Chairperson, Hon Amos Lugoloobi, attributed the projected growth to trade and manufacturing.
“The main drivers of faster growth in the medium term include accelerated growth in trade, manufacturing, private construction, public sector investments in infrastructure, agriculture and tourism,” said MP Lugoloobi.
The Ministry of Works and Transport maintains its place on top of allocations, this time taking Shs6.4 trillion, rivaled only by Security, which takes shs3.6 trillion.
Notable in the allocations are Education with shs3.2 trillion, shs2.9 trillion for Energy while Health bagged shs2.5 trillion.
MPs, however, expressed worry over the growing unemployment despite a promising economy.
“The Committee notes that, the share of youth not in education, employment or training was 34 per cent of the total youth population in 2017, which is higher than regional figures,” partly reads the Budget Committee report.
National Debt Stock is piling, observed the Committee, which they said is a consequence of ambitious infrastructure projects like the oil roads, Busega-Mpigi expressway, Kabaale International Airport among others.
Most of the projects are on loans borrowed from China and the World Bank.
“The Committee noted that the total public debt stock increased by 12.5 per cent to US$ 11.52 billion as at end December 2018 from US$ 10.24 billion as at end December,” noted the report.
Monies returned to the Consolidated Account having been unspent in the financial year have not been indicated to form part of the resource envelope for the 2019/2020.
“The Budget does not capture previous financial year unspent balances and this is underestimating the available resource envelope. While annually there are unspent balances, the budget does not include them in the resource envelope…these unspent balance totaled shs289.4 billion,” noted the report.
The Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, took a swipe at Government Chief Whip, Hon Ruth Nankabirwa, for delays on the part of Ministers in submitting ministerial policy statements within the deadlines provided under the Public Finance Management Act.
“We have had difficulties in considering this Budget…we all know ministerial policy statements were not submitted one month after the deadline and I thought the Government Chief Whip would have apologized to this House instead of saying ‘thank you, thank you,’” said Oulanyah.
The Speaker’s sentiments followed those of MP Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi (DP, Butambala), who was holding brief for the Leader of the Opposition.
“It is the first budget that was passed without debate…members who had ideas to contribute did not contribute,” said Kivumbi.
The Budget reading by President Museveni is set to follow his address on the state of the nation as provided in the Constitution.
The calendar national events are expected in early June 2019.