On 14th June 2014, Mr. Johnstone Baguma, the Executive Director of Toro Development Network indicated how Ugandans will be contributing the highest percentage towards the 2014 – 2015 national budget. “Local citizens will be contributing 82% of the national budget and 18% will be contributed by foreign donors. This will help Uganda as a country to be self dependant rather than depending on foreign donations”. Mr. Johnstone was discussing on ToroDev’s supported ‘Orukurato Program’, a 2hr weekly radio program that discusses issues of accountability every Saturday (08:00 – 10:00) pm on HITS FM.
|Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka carries the National Budget|
During the discussion, Mr. Johnstone also indicated his criticisms over the 2014 – 2015 national budget. “It’s a pity that the government is widening the tax base through hiking essential commodities, agro business inputs, among others. URA (Uganda Revenue Authority) would be using other means to increase the country’s income than through hiking taxes on local citizens. There are many people who are eligible to pay taxes, but they don’t and the burden is then turned to the common man”.
The live radio discussion was also attended by Mr. Mitsera Kasukali, the Executive Director of CABS (Community Agro Business Capacity Services) in Fort Portal Municipality, Kabarole District.
Mr. Kasukali participated in the live radio discussion by appealing to the local leaders to have value for the tax payers’ money. “There should be value for the tax payers’ money so that development is realized through improved infrastructure and social services. Implementers should not use the big budget to satisfy their own mutual benefits, but try to fight challenges of corruption and unemployment that are hindering development in this country”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kasukali appealed to the local leaders to improve the education and health sector. “Staff in the health sector lacks motivation and that’s why we see many of them stealing drugs and time to their private clinics. Even the funds that have been added to the education sector are still too little. Local leaders should get an affirmative action on teachers to be exempted from paying taxes like PAYE (Pay As You Earn) so that they can also enjoy and feel their budget increment”.
Local listeners also participated in the live radio discussion through call ins and using the programs face book page called ‘Orukurato’ to raise their issues and concerns. “The budget has already been passed, therefore, talking on radio will not help us”, said Mugume Robert from Kabarole District, “The government has made a big mistake of increasing funding in the education and works sectors, and leaving out the health sector”, said a caller from Kakabara Sub County in Kyegegwa District, “Corruption should be fought”, said a caller from Kabarole District, “The 2014 – 2015 budget is not good because hiking of consumer goods has been imposed on local citizens”, said Bright, “How many people have been planned for in this budget yet no census has been done?” asked Edward.
The live radio discussion was moderated by Mr. Kasigazi Willy Donanto and is supported by SIDA/CIPESA and SPIDER/Stockholm University on a project aimed at using appropriate ICT tools to promote democratic engagement in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.