Government issues stringent conditions for donors and development partners operating in Uganda

UGANDA – The government has issued stringent guidelines for all donor agencies and development partners operating in Uganda.

Through the Ministry of Finance, the government wants all donors and development partners to have uniformity in their operations with the country’s development plans and with full knowledge of government monitoring agencies.

In a circular letter signed by the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Matia Kasaija, “All development partners should have jointly prepared country strategy papers with the government to ensure that the proposed support is in line with Uganda’s aspirations as enshrined in Vision 2040,” the letter reads in part.

It also stipulates that all agreements and contracts of development assistance should be signed off by the Minister for Finance, as a measure to avoid duplication of efforts.

This will also require all development assistance and projects to be implemented together with or in consultation with the relevant government departments to ensure sustainability of investments carried out.

“The above guideline applies to all programs to be implemented by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the private sector,” It stressed in part.

Reportedly, intended to streamline development assistance in the country, the guidelines compel all partners to seek for cabinet approval of their assistance and signed off by the Minister for Finance, with prior submission of all projects and programs for internal clearance.

The letter, which was also copied to the Embassies in Uganda, including the major donors like; Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, Sweden further demands that all development assistance should be appropriated by Parliament including those whose accounts would be managed off the treasury single account.

Other Embassies copied include; Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Iceland, France, China, Japan, Italy, India, South Korea, and the European Union.

The Ministry of Finance has also provided a special reporting arrangement under the program-based budgeting system in the ministry to cater for funds off the treasury’s single account.

This would in-effect require that all funds provided by the development partners would be reported on for budgeting by the government.

The letter signed by the Minister for Finance Planning and Economic Development, Matia Kasaija also reports that the government has provided a Comprehensive Aid Management Platform where all support by the development partners are reported on and monitored; urging all players to use it to enable the government have a comprehensive approach to all development cooperation efforts.

The letter also compels all development partners to comply and adhere to the new guidelines to ensure transparency.

The letter was also sent to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Resident Representative, World Bank Country Manager, African Development Bank, Country Manager, and Arab Contractors.

Others on the receiving end include; JICA Offices in Kampala and the Economic and Commercial Counsellor, at the Chinese Embassy in Kampala.

The government has on a number of occasions clashed with Civil Society Organizations over what they referred to as illicit funding.

Early this year, Lawyer Nicolas Opio who is also the Director of Chapter Four, a human rights Organization was charged with money laundering after receiving funding from development partners overseas.

CSO’s and private businesses have always alleged that police and other security agencies raid their offices to hack into data regarding funding and other security objectives.

Those raided over the years include; Action Aid-Uganda, Human Rights Network, Unwanted Witness, Anti-Corruption Coalition, The Uhuru Institute for Social Development, Great Lakes Institute on Strategic Studies among others.

Bank accounts of some Organizations like Chapter Four, Action-Aid, GLISS among others were once frozen by the government pending investigations over allegations levelled on their funding and other irregularities.

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