Building Citizens’ Capacity In Effective Budget Analysis And Advocacy

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This was during training that the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) organized as part of its strategy of strengthening capacities of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to engage on the government budget process and provide credible alternative economic policy proposals.

This all stems from the fact that budget analysis and advocacy are growing areas of interest as different stakeholders realize the need to understand the process through which public finances are mobilized, allocated and absorbed, if they are to effectively engage Government on these aspects.

This training brought together CSO representatives from Kampala, Katakwi, Gulu, Lira, Soroti, Kasese, Kabarole, Pader, Agago, Bushenyi, Soroti and Kapchorwa. Participants were taken through several modules including Contextualization of budget policies, introduction to people centered budgeting, CSO budget monitoring, and accountability as well as advocacy and campaigning. This training was led by Dr. Bbaale Edward an Economist from Makerere University.

Also at this training was Ms. Margaret Kakande the Director Budget Monitoring and Accountability Unit at Ministry of Finance who gave the participants insights on how to prepare annual budget performance reports of government programs. She shared tools that can be utilized to generate information government requires when assessing effective utilization of public funds. Ms. Kakande emphasized the need for CSOs to enhance their role of monitoring government programs for improved transparency.

While discussing the greater budget implementation challenges that government faces, Ms. Kakande acknowledged that human resource capacity is one of the key challenge in the public sector that hampers government from effectively delivering on planned resource outputs.

“ Strategies put in place by Government to address this challenge include the introduction of performance contracts for civil servants; although questions are already arising on who would be responsible for assessing these periodically and keeping the right people in office while dismissing incompetent staff. We shall still need you CSOs to monitor effective operationalization of this reform once instituted”. Margaret urged CSOs.

At this training, CSOs were informed that Government has a plan to move away from Output Budgeting Tool (OBT) to an outcome related tool. There is however now need to assess who is going to be in charge of monitoring progress on results and outcomes.

The CSOs also received knowledge and skills in effective CSO budget advocacy which was facilitated by Godber Tumushabe. He shared tips on systematic advocacy planning and emphasized the need for CSOs to equip themselves with knowledge and skill to articulate issues that motivate others to take action;

“impeccably timing opportunities to further our advocacy agenda; skillfully negotiating and building consensus to win modest but strategic policy gains, as well as creating opportunities for larger victories are some of the key skill that today’s CSOs need” Godber advised CSOs

He further urged CSOs to be creative in their advocacy approaches to draw public and media attention to their cause.

This interactive and practical training provided a unique opportunity for CSOs to strengthen their capacity to effectively scrutinize Government budgets and to successfully advocate for change; which will greatly augment their advocacy success. This capacity is especially useful given the increasing Government recognition of the role of CSOs in the budget process has deemed it necessary for Uganda’s Civil Society to get prepared to effectively play its role of influencing both national and local budgets from a pro-poor perspective.

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CSO representatives from Kampala, Katakwi, Gulu, Lira, Soroti, Kasese, Kabarole, Pader, Agago, Bushenyi, Soroti and Kapchorwa during the training held last week. |©CSBAG 2015 .

The training workshop also provided a sharing platform for the CSOs on their previous experiences in budget analysis, advocacy and budget performance monitoring; and also obtain solutions for arising issues that they encounter on a daily basis.

BY: CIVIL SOCIETY BUDGET ADVOCACY GROUP

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