City mayors in fresh demand for independent budgets

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KAMPALA. The demand for an autonomous budget for each of the five division urban councils in Kampala has intensified, with mayors seeking audience with MPs to endorse what they termed as their long overdue demand so that it is reflected in the 2018/19 Financial Year budget.
This fresh demand for an independent budget for every division away from that of mother Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), is currently being championed by Kampala Central Division and has since picked momentum with the backing of the other four divisions; Makindye, Rubaga, Kawempe and Nakawa.

The demand is hinged on the accusation that the KCCA administrative setting allows urban councils to only identify priority areas for budget allocation, and not participate in the budgeting process, something they claim, makes them idle and leads to wastage of tax payer’s money they receive in form of salaries.
The mayors of these divisions, whose demand has been running for a couple of years, were shocked to learn that government hadn’t considered their appeal in the national budget that was read yesterday by Finance minister Matia Kasaija yet they had notified Kampala minister Beti Olive Kamya.

The mayors are Emmanuel Serunjoji (Kawempe), Charles Sserunjogi (Central), Ronald Balimwezo Nsubuga (Nakawa), Joyce Ssebugwawo Nabbosa (Rubaga) and Ali Nganda Mulyanyama (Makindye).
Kampala Central Division deputy mayor Sam Gombya told Daily Monitor that they have already petitioned Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, Kampala minister Beti Olive Kamya and other relevant offices to consider returning the powers to urban councils to determine their budgetary allocations according to the priority needs of the councils as highlighted in the proposed KCCA Amendment Bill.
“Most of the work is done by the urban councils because as leaders, we are always on ground and this makes us understand better the demands of our people. We strongly believe that by directly handling the budget, we shall be able to identify issues that mostly affect people and this is why we need an independent budget so that we can be able to allocate funds without delays,” Mr Gombya said.

For the FY 2017/18, KCCA budget is projected at Shs337.39b of which Shs162.8b is to be realised from government grants and Shs20b is from Uganda Road Fund.
This newspaper understands that funding for divisions will be revised downwards because of the budget cuts, and this means that KCCA will minimise the available funds so that all the divisions are balanced as far as service delivery is concerned.
But Mr Serunjoji, who is also the chairperson of the Kampala mayors, faulted KCCA for being ‘inconsiderate’ to their demand, which he said, is long overdue.
He revealed that although they were promised to have their budget in the FY 2015/17, KCCA still controls the entire city budget.
Mr Serunjoji noted that urban councils convene council meetings where resolutions are made but he said they are never operationalised due to lack of enough funds.
“We have town clerks at all the divisions who act as accounting officers. There is no way funds could be mismanaged because people to manage those funds are already in place. We pray that our demand this time is given priority so that we can stop being redundant,” he said.

During KCCA’s third meeting on August 22, 2016, councillors unanimously passed a resolution to have some powers given back to division mayors to enable them execute their mandate.
In the current setting, KCCA allocates money to the projects that are being undertaken in a particular division and the money spent depends on the nature of the project.
While touring divisions shortly after being appointed Kampala minister in June last year, Ms Beti Kamya pledged to address the mayors’ demand but said it would be operationalised when the current KCCA Act is amended.
Ms Ssebugwawo explained that the current situation has turned them (mayors) into beggars where they have to ask KCCA to work on urgent projects in their divisions.
“We are all together in the demand for an independent budget,” she said.

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