Opposition Wants 5% Budget Allocation To Agriculture

Opposition legislators are pushing for a 5% budgetary allocation to the Agriculture sector and abolition of all taxes on agricultural inputs.

Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Francis Epetait
Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Francis Epetait

In the 2014/2015 financial year, agriculture sector was allocated 473.6 billion shillings representing 3.19% of the 14.3 trillion shillings budget.

But the Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Francis Epetait, has noted that the agricultural sector has remained underfunded for a number of years.

Epetait says that government should instead avail additional funding of 242 billion shillings to come up with a total allocation of 715 billion shillings or 5% of the total budget.

The views are highlighted in the Opposition alternative policy statement of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries in response to Ministry of Agriculture 2014/2015 financial year policy statement.

In the last four financial years, budgetary funding to the agricultural sector has been declining in the percentage from 4.98% in 2010/2011 to 4.51% in 2011/2012 financial year. In 2012/2013 government allocated 3.49% to the sector followed by a 2.92% allocation in financial year 2013/2014.

Epetait, in reflection of the allocations, noted that Government had failed to achieve both the Maputo Protocol target of 10% of the National Budget allocations to agriculture and the NRM Caucus resolution of 7% saying that the 5% allocation should be made to the sector as spelt out in the National Development Plan (NDP) and Vision 2040 to realize agricultural transformation.

Epetait, the Ngora County Member of Parliament, further demanded that government abolishes all taxes on all the agricultural inputs citing seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, hoes, machinery and others. In the 2014/2015 financial year budget, Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka proposed 18% tax of agricultural inputs.

Epetait notes that this tax is likely to drive away farmers from food production since farming will become expensive hence food scarcity. He advised that the tax be scrapped to spar agricultural production to encourage economic growth.

In addition, the opposition is pushing for investment in reviving and strengthening agricultural cooperatives as a means of agricultural transformation.

Epetait said that cooperatives help farmers in value addition and better marketing of their produce thereby encouraging them to produce more.

He also suggested unbundling of the Ministry into the Ministry of Agriculture and a separate Ministry of Animal Industry and Fisheries in order to have a more focused planning and financing.

Epetait noted that empirical evidence shows that when the two ministries stood alone there was a better performance in each of them compared to the current situation saying that the merger has simply not yielded the desired results.

He said that all funds for emergency control of pests and diseases should be housed with the relevant ministries responsible for crops and that for livestock and fisheries to enable prompt interventions in case of disease and pest outbreaks.

He noted that bureaucratic delays in release of funds from Ministry of Finance often lead to further spread of diseases and pests which make farmers suffer huge losses.

The Opposition are also suggesting the establishment of a National Land Development Agency (NLDA) to champion public-private partnerships in agriculture development through strategic utilization of land resources.

They also propose a National Bank for Agricultural Transformation as the epicenter for agricultural finance delivery.

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