Roads, Education Take Up Bulk Of 2013/2014 Budget

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Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka  on Thursday presented the 2013/2014 budget to Parliament at Serena Hotel in Kampala, with several key proposals being suggested for the next financial year.
Among the key proposals, Kiwanuka has allocated close to 2.4 trillion shillings to roads and transport sector, while 1.8 trillion shillings goes to education.
The two sectors also took the biggest chunk of the budget last year. Out of a total of 11.15 trillion shillings in the 2012/2013 financial year budget, Kiwanuka allocated Education 1.669 trillion shillings, representing 17 percent of the total envelope. The Road sector took 1.6 trillion shillings.
Other proposals in the budget include plans to repair 1,670 kilometres of roads of paved roads and another 9,000 kilometres of unpaved roads in the next financial year.The long awaited construction of Karuma hydro power dam is set to start plus that of the 15 other power dams which are to be completed within three years.
The minister also proposes excise duty of 200 shillings on Kerosene which had earlier been removed. Other taxes include excise duty on fuel which is to be increased by 50 shillings per litre while that of cigarette was increased by 25 shillings.

Looking at the performance last year, the minister said the economy grew by 5.1% in the 2012/2013 compared to 3.4% in the previous financial year.

The minister said that at least 5,200 small businesses were supported under the Youth Venture Capital Fund and that up to 21 billion shillings had been given out by May 2013.

To improve human development, the minister said an additional 6,172 Health Workers were recruited to work at Health Centers and the remuneration of Medical Officers at Health Center IVs was enhanced. Government, according to Kiwanuka, also increased salaries for Primary School Teachers by 15%, and Science Teachers in Post Primary Education and Training Institutions received a 30% increase in wages.

During the year, over 35, 000 farmers directly benefitted from provision of improved maize seed, in addition to accessing inputs such as fertilizers, under the commodity approach. A total of 13, 486 kg of foundation seed for Arabica coffee, beans, maize and rice, were distributed to seed companies and farmer groups.

To enhance irrigation for water for production, the minister announced rehabilitation of all the three irrigation schemes of Mubuku in Kasese, Doho in Butaleja and Agoro in Lamwo district.

On education, Kiwanuka announced that government has allocated five billion shillings towards operationalization of the Student Loan Scheme.

Speaking after the budget speech, President Yoweri Museveni said donors are welcome to fund projects like roads. However, the president insisted that roads such as Mukono-Kyetume-Katosi-Nyenga, Mubende-Kakumiro-Kagadi, and Sembabule-Villa Maria among others will be fully funded by the government in the next financial year.

On power generation, Museveni said the Egyptians say that there is a threat of building dams on the Nile. But he noted that the lack of electricity is leading people to cut trees for energy. In Uganda according to Museveni, 40 billion cubic metres per annum is destroyed for firewood. Museveni said the real threat to the Nile is lack of electricity.

The president further said no Africans want to hurt Egypt, adding that Egypt cannot continue to hurt countries in the Sub-Sahara Africa that want to utilize the Nile to extend power to their people. These comments come as Egypt and Ethiopia are bickering over the latter’s plans to build a power dam on the Blue Nile.

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