This is one of the recommendations contained in the Budget Committee Report presented and adopted on 31st January 2023, as Parliament passed the UGX49.9trillion budget for the financial year 2023/24.
Though the Human Capital Development Programme takes the largest share of the Budget with UgShs9trillion, social protection interventions that fall therein are grossly underfunded with other having zero allocations.
Generally, the Committee noted with concern the glaring budget cuts for the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (the primary ministry for social protection). The Ministry budget for non-wage has been cut by UGX 170bn. These cuts have been imposed on subventions under the Ministry, and yet the subventions are both programmatic and institutional.
The National Budget Framework Paper indicated just 20% allocation to the Senior Citizens Grant amounting to Ugsh24b of the required Ugsh121b for the current number of beneficiaries (306,516). This has been viewed by legislators as a strategy to scrap the grant that has immensely contributed to the usually vulnerable older persons in the communities.
“The result is that the Ministry will have to significantly scale down on these programmes or close a number of them. Moreover, these subventions account for more than 90% of the budget of the Ministry. The subventions also affect vulnerable and disadvantaged such as PWDs, children, older persons, and women,” reads the report adding that, “The Committee recommends that budget cuts totaling to UGX l70 billlon be reinstated.”
The Senior Citizens Grant is Uganda’s largest cash transfer programme targeting older persons aged 80 years and above with a monthly grant of sh25,000 to smoothen their consumption. Currently, a total of 306,516 older persons are benefiting from the grant across the country. The number is anticipated to increase given on-going interventions such as registration of eligible members and correcting potential members’ details on the national ID.
The other recommendations from the Committee were; the need for additional funding to clear arrears which currently stand at Ugsh5.1b and that the Ministry of Gender, Labour & Social Development engage with the National Information Registration Authority (NIRA) to ensure that errors on the National IDs are corrected and the pending beneficiaries registered.
UPFSP in their Position Paper on the NBFP2023/24 called for a revocation of the blanket cut on subventions. Indeed, as highlighted by the Budget Committee this will have negative implications for the already vulnerable population groups as reflected under the social protection programme allocation.
Government will now revise the budget estimates based on Parliament’s recommendations and present final estimates to the House by 15 March 2023 for the final budgeting process.
Content credit: upfsp.org