M7 WRITES TO ALL DONOR AGENCIES, DEMANDING POWER TO DETERMINE WHICH NGO GETS FUNDING
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By Mulengera Reporters
Even when he appreciates their financial support coming to Uganda over the years, President Museveni has always suspected development partners (DPs) especially those from Canada, UK, Europe and North America of undermining his political authority by way of channeling some of their Oversees Development Assistance (ODA) through non-state actors. These are mainly NGOs, CSOs and Private Sector Organizations.
Gen Museveni has always wished for or desired to have full control over such funding as opposed to allowing non-state actors act autonomously when making financial decisions on how, where, how much and what to spend the billions they get as part of the ODA that the bilateral and multilateral DPs annually inject in our economy.
Acting through the Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, who many consider to be his walking stick because he actually is the Finance Minister de-jure, Museveni has directed that from now on all the money DPs will be channeling to all non-state actors (NGOs, CSOs, private sector organizations) operating in this economy must only be accessed or made available after cabinet level approval.
The three page confidential letter signed by Kasaija and copied to all bilateral and multilateral development partners makes it clear that, in order to comply with the new program-based planning approach that is aimed at amplifying realization of Uganda’s long term development planning goals enshrining in both Vision 2040 and NDP III, donors (DPs) will annually be required to disclose all the money they intend to give to different non-state actors (NGOs, CSOs, private sector etc) to the Cabinet through the Finance Minister Matia Kasaija.
All the funding they intend to extent to Uganda through NGOs will have to be disclosed to the Finance Ministry so that Parliament captures the same during appropriation processes. The Finance Minister (who says this is his mandate under the laws of Uganda, Paris Principles of Aid Effectiveness and prudent practice) will be empowered to approve or veto the proposed funding by donors/DPs to NGOs and other non-state actors. To ensure the Finance Minister doesn’t act arbitrarily or abuse his power to achieve selfish gain, Cabinet will equally be involved in vetting and approving every funding donors intend to inject into Uganda through NGOs.
Besides Cabinet, Gen Museveni wants Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to be thickly involved (actually mandatorily consulted) to ensure the funding donors want to avail through NGOs responds to the country’s priorities as enshrined under the NDP III and Vision 2040. In his circular, Kasaija explains that such disclose and multi-stakeholder involvement will enhance transparency into such donor funding besides enabling the GoU (on behalf of the people) to develop a deeper sense of ownership and involvement into stuff that donors fund through non-state actors.
The same disclosure requirement is aimed at ensuring “sustainability of the investments carried out with Development Partners” funds, claims Kasaija adding that all “projects and programs must begin to be implemented together and in consultation with [the GoU] MDAs” as opposed to donors autonomously working with NGOs and other non-state actors. In essence, every expenditure the bilateral and multilateral donors are to make in Uganda in favor of NGOs and other non-state actors will have to be cleared by Cabinet through the Finance Minister.
Under the mandate of signing off all “agreements for development assistance,” the same Finance Minister will approve or disallow any funding coming to an NGO or any other non-state actor. “This will ensure that there is no duplication of efforts by the different development partners and government,” Kasaija’s widely circulated circular reads in part.
Each of the development partners will be required to sign up to “Country Strategy Papers” committing themselves to only fund non-state actors’ activities that have been cleared by Cabinet as being consistent with the country’s long term development planning objects as enshrined under NDP III and Vision 2040. The NGOs and other non-state actors will have their work plans for the subsequent FYs scrutinized for their NDP III compliance by the MDA concerned with the projects and programs they intend to implement.
It will only be after that approval that the Finance Minister, acting on behalf of cabinet, will proceed to permit the donor or development partner concerned to go ahead and actually release the funding in favor of the recipient NGO and other non-state actors. The NGO activities must feed into the realization of the broader national objectives envisaged under the new program-based planning which the GoU is now prioritizing under NDP III as a solution to duplication.
All this proposed streamlining of the donor funding in Uganda is being rationalized in the circular as aimed at ensuring that the “the people of Uganda obtain maximum benefit from the assistance the country gets from our Development Partners.” Upon being cleared to receive the funding, the NGOs and other non-state actors will be required to meet frequent “accountability, reporting and monitoring” obligations by submitting regular reports to the leadership of the respective MDAs under which their activities fall. This will give the GoU MDAs supervisory powers over NGOs and other non-state actors doing work under that sector. In essence, the donors will be required to submit a list of NGOs and other non-state actors they are to fund in that FY while disclosing the different interventions each of these recipients will be undertaking.
Parliament, which as we all know is numerically dominated by ultra-Musevenists, will be having greater say and scrutiny into the activities of NGOs and other non-state actors that receive money from donors or DPs ostensibly to serve public interest of the Ugandan people. “All projects and programs will be reported and appropriated by Parliament including those whose accounts will be managed off the Treasury Single Account. A special arrangement has been provided for reporting under to cater for the scenario above. This implies that all projects and programs financed by the Development Partners shall be reported to government for budgeting purposes,” Kasaija’s circular reads in part.
The donors are implored to make use of the Aid Management Platform to immediately begin effecting the required reporting obligations. This is how Kasaija, who is expecting apprehension as part of the wide-spread consultations on the matter, signs off: “Government will further provide a detailed Development Cooperation Policy after consultations with Cabinet. The above principles will apply to all ODA including off budget support operations. We look forward to further discussion with you over the matter.” (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).