Stop budgeting for corruption, CSOs tells Parliament

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Stop budgeting for corruption, CSOs tells Parliament
Parliament

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called on parliamentarians to eliminate budget allocations that enable corruption.

The CSOs made the appeal during a post-budget dialogue for the Financial Year 2024/25 in Kampala yesterday.

The symposium was held under the theme, "Transforming Challenges into Opportunities."

Amidst discussions of the new budget, the CSOs highlighted several instances of irregular, unapproved expenditures, including the controversial services award.

These expenditures, the CSOs argue, exemplify a pattern of financial mismanagement and corruption that needs to be eradicated.

Dr Arthur Beinomugisha, executive director of Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), underscored the government's ongoing efforts to combat corruption, framing it as a dire threat to both the economy and national security.

"Corruption remains a severe threat to our economy and security. I am glad the government is taking strong measures against it. We must ensure that corruption is suppressed and does not manifest openly in our society," he said.

The controversial services award, cited by the CSO, serves as a glaring example of how public funds can be misallocated.

Such awards, often given without transparent approval processes, can fuel public distrust and hinder genuine developmental efforts.

Corruption, often seen as a malignant force, has deep-rooted impacts on society. It diverts essential resources away from critical development projects and undermines public trust in governmental institutions.

The call to stop budgeting for corruption is not just a financial concern but a plea for moral and ethical governance.

Parliamentarians play a crucial role in this transformation. As representatives of the people, they are tasked with scrutinising budget allocations and ensuring that public funds are used responsibly.

The call to action is a reminder of their duty to uphold integrity and accountability in all governmental financial matters.

Julius Mukunda, the CEO of the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), delivered a stark warning to the government regarding its borrowing practices, he cautioned against the detrimental habit of borrowing to pay salaries and channelling borrowed funds into unproductive, so-called ghost projects.

“It is so sad that the government gets loans and can’t utilize them well. Why do you keep sinking money into ghost projects like the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development and Lubowa?” he queried.

In response to these critiques, Ramadhan Ggoobi, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Finance, clarified the government's current borrowing strategy.

Ggoobi asserted that the government is not borrowing to pay salaries but is instead focusing on development projects such as the construction of roads and hospitals.

“Our borrowing is directed towards development, like the construction of roads and hospitals,” Ggoobi said.

This shift in narrative aims to reassure the public and stakeholders that the government is prioritizing infrastructure and long-term growth over unsustainable financial practices.

The CSOs message during the Post-Budget Dialogue serves as a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggle against corruption.

By stopping the budgeting for corrupt practices, the country can pave the way for a more transparent, accountable, and prosperous future.

It is imperative that parliamentarians heed this call and take decisive action to eradicate corruption from the public financial system.

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