TOP JUDICIARY BOSSES TELL OFF NPA: TAKE AWAY YOUR NEW BUDGETING REFORMS OUR JLOS WAY IS GOOD ENOUGH
By Mulengera Reporters
In enforcement of new requirements coming under the National Development Plan (NDP) III (2021-2025), National Planning Authority (NPA) has (with backing of the President and entire Cabinet) required all government MDAs to abandon the old system of proceeding as sectors and instead begin presenting their budgets and work plans as consolidated programs encompassing several sectors thereunder. The idea is to diminish duplication of roles and wastage of scarce resources. All the MDAs must have shared planning and execution of budgeted and planned activities in a way that enhances the realization of the country’s long term development objectives. Some accounting officers have been uncomfortable with this new programmatic approach to implementation of service delivery fearing to lose some of their autonomy and clout.
Whereas many entities’ accounting officers have been making muted protestations, ostensibly fearing to protest openly or formally in any way, the Judiciary Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana has been very outspoken in voicing his resentment towards the new program-based approach to planning, budgeting and service delivery. He has been exchanging letters with NPA and Minister David Bahati under whom the Planning Authority falls.
Yet today Thursday’s 25th Justice Law & Order Sector (JLOS) annual review meeting has revealed that Bigirimana has full backing of other key JLOS sector leaders in registering his resentment towards Dr. Joseph Muvawala-led NPA’s insistence to reform the way things are done in this country. Comprising of 18 sister institutions, JLOS is a key sector because in between them, the 18 MDAs annually share a combined resource envelope of Shs1.8trn.
Speaking at the review meeting at Mestil Hotel Nsambya, the JLOS leaders seemed to be uncomfortable that Muvawala’s new budgeting approach was coming to scatter their sister institutions as opposed to now when they are coordinated as one under the auspices of JLOS Secretariat whose head Racheal Odoi Musoke and her deputy Sam Wairagala were unanimously praised by GoU leaders and the Development Partner representatives for satisfactorily executing their coordination mandate.
The Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo, who chairs one of the JLOS apex committees, was very clear and didn’t mince words while registering his resentment towards the new NPA position regarding program-based budgeting, planning and execution of government work and service delivery. Branding NPA’s insistence counterproductive and unhelpful interference, Dollo implored his judiciary cadres and fellow leaders not to worry but concentrate on their work and leave the rest to him. He was optimistic that the NPA top leadership will eventually back off because he is already engaging government leaders at the very top.
“They should take away their programmatic approach and leave us alone. I’m certain they are finally going to see our point because we have a strong argument against it as JLOS. It’s a common sense argument and not even legalistic. We have something to show the excellent results we have registered operating as JLOS institutions. We must be left alone and not forced into that new scheme of things of theirs,” said Dollo attracting applause from JLOS leaders, development partners and stakeholders present at the Mestil review meeting.
The Chie Justice said he has scheduled a meeting with Finance Minister Matia Kasaijja for early December, an encounter during which he will implore the Minister to prevail over NPA so that the JLOS institutions get exempted from the “new scheme of things” because the 18 institutions are already doing very well under the able coordination of the JLOS Secretariat.
He said the clear results and outputs, which even donors acknowledged at the meeting and rated to be more than satisfactory, should imply to anyone that there is no need to dismantle the JLOS arrangement and have the 18 institutions scattered in order to comply with the newly-adopted program-based approach to planning and budgeting. NPA ED Dr. Joseph Muvawala, whose teams authored the NDP III, declined responding directly preferring to stick to official channels of communication between NPA and the judiciary leadership. “We are already corresponding a lot with them on that issue and the fact remains we aren’t moved by the arguments they have been making insisting to be let alone. I think there is a lot they aren’t yet understanding correctly about program-based planning and budgeting. It will all be deescalated only through engagement,” is all Muvawala said declining further comment.
Speaking during the same JLOS session at Mestil Hotel, Solicitor General Francis Atooke (who is one of the key accounting officers in JLOS whose Working Committee he chairs) equally had no kind words for what many at the meeting perceived to be unnecessary interference by NPA. The veteran technocrat from Lango implied that the efficiency and the coordinated approach to service delivery, which program-based budgeting and planning seeks to achieve, is already abundantly present among the 18 JLOS institutions and the same only needs consolidation as opposed to scattering the 18 institutions already coordinating and working together very productively. He said without such coordination and results-oriented approach, there is no way citizens would be having increased trust and confidence in the 18 institutions whose concerted efforts he said had led to fewer human rights violation cases being reported against any of their employees to UHRC in the last 12 months.
“It’s this holistic approach to planning and implementation of budget activities that has led to these excellent results we are celebrating today notwithstanding the challenges we still have,” Atooke said insisting the JLOS model should be emulated rather than being interfered with as NPA goes about enforcing program-based budgeting and planning. “This approach has worked well for the last 20 years and why think of interfering with it by scattering the 18 sister agencies? We have excelled in serving the public in areas like human rights protection, observance of rule of law, law and order and synergies have been built enabling us serve our people better with everyone being on board.”
Principal Judge Dr. Flavian Zeija was equally uncomfortable with the things NPA is insisting on without deeply understanding the uniqueness of JLOS as a peculiar sector. He suggested more dialogue on the issue with Dollo maintaining that the progress registered in the last 20 years of deliberate hard work should be respected and consolidated rather than imposing blanket interference even when it’s clear that scattering the 18 JLOS institutions will only constrain service delivery and high efficiency levels being registered. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).