This week on 06th March, 2023, the Opposition (Alternative Government) in Uganda introduced what they called ‘human rights based approach to budgeting.’ They resolved to migrate from the traditional approach of responding to the Government proposals in the National budget, which i totally agree with them because their human rights approach presents a view of how the national resource envelope should be distributed and utilized.
If you are observant, you will realize that the Museveni Administration is implementing a programme-based budget which is premised on NDP III. There is a troublesome nature of programme-based approach. It is not properly implemented. It is lacking in terms of evaluation. It is hollow. You cannot evaluate it to determine how far you have gone as a country. The communication between NDP III (3rd National Development Plan) and the programme-based approach is at cross purpose; they are not moving in the same direction.
What is national budget? This is a Government framework for management of the economy showing investments and priorities. It includes fiscal and monetary policies, micro and macro-economic outlooks of the economy. National budget has two key elements; Revenue and Expenditure.
Revenue is about projected amount to be raised on one hand and who and where to raise from on the other hand. While, expenditure is about how money will be allocated and how it will be expended. Recurrent and development budgetary allocations are in line with country planning frameworks.
Government is a guarantor of human rights and therefore bears to the duty to respect, protect and fulfill human rights of all the citizens. Generating revenue, allocating and spending all have a bearing on human rights and must be given careful thoughts before final decisions.
Government obligations and commitments on human rights are in Chapter 4 of our Constitution (Bill of Rights) and International Treaties, Covenants, Charters, Protocols to mention but a few. The obligations must be reflected in the national budgets in specific terms.
Increase availability, accessibility, acceptability and quantity of goods and services. Reduce the inequalities and inequities; develop policies that increase enjoyment of fundamental human rights. Participation, Transparency, accountability and non-discriminations becomes core in fulfilling the obligations and offering remedies where violations and abuses take place.
Human rights based budgeting means resource distribution by prioritizing the people first. This involves thinking about the impact of raising revenue, allocation and expenditure on human rights. Then budget decisions reflect the human rights standards set in the national laws and international obligations that are binding on the state.
Formulations, approvals, execution and audits take into account the human rights principles. Budgetary decisions benefit the neediest in terms of economic, social geographical to mention but a few considerations.
Practical aspects of human rights based budgeting takes into account sustainability; how much Government can borrow and how much in deficit it can run. Parliament reviews and approves the budget taking into consideration the views of the Civil Society Organizations and Executive respects and implements the recommendations made by Parliament.
Examine the human right commitments and obligations (Chapter 4 & Declarations such as Abuja, Maputo to mention but a few). Analyze the human rights concerns of the children, women youths, PWDs, Karimojong, politicians to mention but a few. Design policies that respond to the concerns identified and allocate adequate budget for implementation. Monitor whether the money is being spent or was spent as planned, what was delivered and to targeted beneficiaries.
Evaluate the impact of the intervention and determine whether to continue, improve or terminate. Question the efforts towards resource mobilization to determine the adequacy and equitability aspects.
The right to food and attendant rights should be accessible and affordable to all. It should be safe, nutritious and culturally acceptable. Then it should be produced in a sustainably manner.
The resultant policies and outcomes would be free school meals, special vouchers for pregnant women or mothers with babies, subsidies, living wage, school or kitchen gardens, food inspectors, silos. Secondary, there would be increased life expectancy, less hospital visits, reduced mortality, increased school retention to mention but a few.
The Government’s priorities are wrong and deficient. Generating revenue, allocation and expenditure all have a bearing on human rights and must be given careful thoughts by the Museveni’s Administration before final decisions are made especially that the national budget framework is ongoing. The Alternative Government’s human rights based approach to budgeting is a good one and so Government should adopt it towards national development.
Denis Mugonza Waggumbulizi | Advocate, Researcher & Entrepreneur
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