Facilitate local governments more – Oulanyah

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, has urged the central government to appropriately facilitate local governments in order to improve service delivery.

Oulanyah said that Uganda should employ a holistic approach by supporting every sector.

“A country is like a tree that has parts like the leaves, branches and roots, which all play a role in making sure the tree stays alive. In that same manner, local governments need to be supported for the entire system of government to run smoothly,” he said.

Oulanyah was responding to concerns of underfunding raised by the Local Government Ministry at a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Local Government Parliamentary Forum under the theme; “the Role of Parliament in strengthening decentralization and local government financing”. 

The Deputy Speaker said that in 1997, the Government set up a decentralised system of governance with the aim of bringing services closer to the people. 

“This system of decentralisation was adopted across all local governments and it requires funding,” he said, adding that, “If these systems are not functioning properly, there will be a problem”. 

Oulanyah explained that to deliver services to the people, there must be a coordinated and effective network between the central government and local governments. 

“Whatever the local government does is a responsibility of the central government. The central government should fully fund the budgets of districts and the revenue they make should only come in as a bonus,” he added.

Oulanyah also noted that government development targets should be extended to local governments when being implemented.

“When you decide to focus on infrastructure development, do not give all the money to Uganda National Roads Authority; send some to the District Urban Community Access roads project,” he said, adding that, “The people in the village only care about the river bank that floods, affecting their children going to school, so all they want is a culvert”. 

Citing an example of district councils that have never been trained since taking office, the Deputy Speaker said such councils have no clue what they have to do in office.

“I recently conducted training for council speakers in the Acholi sub-region and it was clear they were unknowledgeable in many areas,” he said. 

He said that people need to know what to do so that the systems they oversee can be efficient. 

The Minister of State for Local Government, Hon Jennifer Namuyangu, observed that funding to local governments has reduced over the years yet the demand from the population is ever increasing.

“We receive only 13 per cent of which 9.5 per cent of that is spent on salary, leaving the remainder of 3.5 per cent to be spent on other district requirements. This cripples planning and development at local government level,” she said. 

Namuyangu said more funding is needed for local governments to deliver services.