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HomelawUganda's national budget: a look at the procedures and roles

Uganda’s national budget: a look at the procedures and roles

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The national budget is one of the most complex concepts that citizens fail to understand, and even when it is their duty to hold the Government accountable, most of the complex terms and procedures of the budget are unknown to them.

Today, I will discuss the procedural steps for developing a national budget and the role of various stakeholders in the procedure. It proceeds through a series of events following particular dates set out in the constitution and statutory provisions.
Articles 155 to 158 of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda, as amended to 2018, provide the legal basis for the preparation and approval of the national budget.

Articles 190 to 197 of the 1995 constitution further provide for the finances of the Local Government. The national budget is evidence of the doctrine of checks and balances in a way that we witness various arms of the Government take part in the budget process, from its drafting up to the executive reading it out. The word budget expressly means the financial resources required implementing government functions, including the assets.

According to the Budget Act, 2001 Act 6 of 2001, an act that was drafted to provide for and regulate the budgetary procedure for a systematic and efficient budgetary process and for other matters connected therewith. Section 2 defines budget as the process by which the Government sets levels to efficiently collect revenue and allocate the spending of resources among all sectors to meet national objectives.

Section 3 of the Act, in reference with Article 155 of the 1995 Constitution provides for the President to submit estimates before Parliament not later than the 15th day of June in the financial year, such estimates include estimates of revenue, fiscal and monetary programmes and plans for economic and social development and expenditure of Government the next year.

However, the period not later than 1st day of April in each financial year shall be put into consideration in line with the three-year microeconomic plan and programs. Section 5 provides for the submission of estimates of departments of any Government institution or commission or department by the 15th day of February in each year.

Ministers then proceed to make policy statements in their ministries by the 30th day of June each year.

Therefore, the speaker shall then commit the indicative allocations to the parliament budget committee and each seasonal committee of Parliament, which discusses and reviews the indicative allocations and submit the report to the budget committee no later than the 25th day of April.

The said budget committee then scrutinises the estimates and reports of the seasonal committees and submits its recommendations to the speaker who then sends them to the fountain of honor, the President. The committees however can summon a minister or any person holding a public office appears before them to adduce evidence.

Where there is a need for a percentage of supplementary expenditure under section 12, Parliament does not need to exceed 3% of the total approved budget.

The President is also obliged to inform the country about the loans and grants before 15th day of June in each financial year.

This can also include domestic loans, call them loans from local companies or body. and various reports follow suit which include reports on exemptions of tax which is in line with Article 152(2) of the 1995conbstitution as amended to 2018, it provides that where a person or authority having power to waive or vary any tax shall in regard with the said constitutional article make a quarterly report to Parliament which shall be on or before the 30tth day of September, the 31st day of December, the 31st day of March and 30th day of June in each financial year which report includes particulars of the person or organisation, reasons for exemption, amount of tax and the benefits from exemption. Here, we can draw an example of various institutions, including ours (Nkumba University) that followed this precedent.

Therefore, the procedure follows the budget debated until the last step when the Minister of finance and planning reads it to the country, following this year’s budget it was read on the 13th day of June.

The three arms of the Government that is Parliament, judiciary and executive join arms to bring to the citizens a national budget. It is prudent to note that the national budget is an important tool for the allocation of resources in a given financial year of the country, for a country like Uganda; a financial year runs from 1st July to 30th June of the next year.

Parliament plays a bigger role across the budgeting circle following the fiscal policies among others. Amendment powers is a key indicator that Parliament plays a major role in the budgeting process.

Even after the approval of the budget, the Parliament continues to have oversight functions to see the implementation of the budget. It carries out timely oversight, influences audit reports, and follows that public funds have been used for the purposes it was intended.

Though an indirect role, the judiciary ensures the legality of the process. It can be petitioned (courts) to challenge the constitutionality of the budget. Civil society organisations or individuals may bring lawsuits if they believe the national budget was unconstitutional or misused budget funds.

It is the role of the Parliament to scrutinise and find out issues of allocation of resources, looking at how funds were distributed among various sectors, such as education, healthcare, defence and infrastructure, social welfare of the country capitalising on social programs, poverty eradication programs, pensions schemes, taxation, rates and impact on the citizens among other issues which may also include Constitutional compliance, legality of taxes, rates policies, public financial management , budget process.

In conclusion, Uganda’s budget procedure involves an inter-play of various arms of Government right its preparation, proposal, approval, amending power and reading. Once the budget is approved, the Minister of Finance is responsible for implementing the budget, reading it, and disbursing funds for the various programs allocated.

About Author: Mwanje Gideon is a law student and President of both the Uganda Law Students Association and the Law Student Association of East Africa. He is also the President of the Nkumba University School of Law Research Club.

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Mwanje Gideon
Mwanje Gideon
Mwanje Gideon, also known as Batapa is a student of Law at Nkumba University driven by a fervent ambition to contribute significantly to the legal jurisprudence in Uganda. Mwanje channels his wealth of knowledge through diverse presentations, articles and books. He has transversed several leadership symposiums, and conferences, the most recent one being the 28th East African Law Society Conference in the Capital-Bujumbura. Beyond the confines of law classes and authorship, He currently serves as the President of the Uganda Law Students Association, Nkumba University Law Society and Nkumba University the School of Law Research Club


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