Government plans to spend Shs 490bn under the new Parish Development Model project that is meant to eradicate poverty among 68 per cent of households across the country.
However questions from the public point to more pessimism than optimism as to how successful the model will be. The proposal by the ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, which is now before parliament, aims to have development activities planned for and executed at the parish level.
With now more resources and responsibilities planned at the parish level, it is expected that the rates of growth and development will be higher, with more people expected to transform from subsistence to commercial production.
According to the ministerial statement, the Parish Development Model (PDM) is a strategy for organizing and delivering public and private sector interventions for wealth creation and employment generation at the lowest economic planning unit.
“The pandemic has reminded us of the urgent need to speed up our national efforts to rapidly grow the share of Ugandans in the monetized economy where effective demand is generated to support industrial growth. We must do so without compromising the need to grow the quality and quantity of our exports to regional and international markets,” says the statement to parliament by Matia Kasaija, the former minister for Finance, Planning and Economic Development.
The proposal is finding resistance from different sections of the population, with some saying there was no piloting of the programme or that the pilot done was not adequate. Others are equating the model to other failed programs.
But economist and university don Dr Fred Muhumuza says the pessimism is uncalled for. He says the model is part of the decentralization process and that some sectors are already implementing it.
Dr Daniel Kasibule, the president of Uganda Veterinary Association welcomes the model saying it is long overdue. He says it will make service delivery easier especially for sectors that offer services to the grassroots communities.
One of the main highlights of the model is the planned revolving fund for each parish, worth Shs 38m, which makes it Shs 403bn for the 10,594 parishes in Uganda. The ministry admits that the funds generally suffer from high administrative costs and that their services are relatively expensive for their intended beneficiaries.
This has also necessitated the need to reform the policies governing these funds. PDM is made up of seven pillars, to be implemented by both public and private sector institutions at the central and local government levels. They include production, processing and marketing, infrastructure and economic services and financial inclusion.
The others are social services, community data (Community Information System), governance and administration as well as mindset change towards commercial production. Government has identified and prioritized the development of eighteen commodities, which are considered to be highly marketable locally and internationally.
They include coffee, fish, cotton, dairy, bananas, tea, beans, cocoa, beef, and cassava. Others are vegetable oil, palm, avocado, maize, shea, nut, rice, cashew nuts, sugar cane, and macadamia nuts.
The agriculture sector has always suffered a lack of ready markets, leading to losses and discouragement from further production. The ministry notes this and says, the model caters for the promotion of small and medium enterprises to take up the surplus production from the parish.
It also plans to foster a competitive business environment by ensuring a stable and low-cost business environment capable of attracting private investment and boosting exports.
The ministry will also mobilize SME financing by aligning micro-financing strategies at the parish level with financing strategies for SMEs, cooperatives and industrialists at the zonal and national levels.
Under the Parish Model, the chief administrative officer (CAO), will be tasked with the responsibility to achieve a sustainable production surplus of the applicable commodities by the parishes in the districts.
On financing of the model, the ministry will establish and capitalize the Parish Revolving Fund, supervise parish-based SACCOs and Capitalise constituency-based SACCOs under the Presidential Initiative for Wealth Creation and Jobs (Emyooga).
In the financial year 2022/23 and the medium term, the specific amount of funds to be allocated to the Revolving Fund of the respective parishes will be determined using the share of households in the subsistence economy by sub county and affirmative action for special groups (women, youth and persons with disabilities).
The PDM will be financed through an amalgamation of the NAADS, PRDP, Luwero - Rwenzori Development Programme, Operation Wealth Creation (Agri-Led) and the Uganda Coffee Development Authority seedlings project.