Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, second left, speaks to US Ambassador to Uganda, Ms Deborah Malac, second right, and other representatives of the donor community during the meeting at the Pearl of Africa Hotel in Kampala.
By Stephen Otage
Kampala — The World Bank has poured cold water on Uganda’s infrastructure development saying it is wasted investment that is not helping the economy to grow.
The World Bank warned of harder economic times unless something is done to make Uganda’s infrastructure generate revenue from the public investments that government has borrowed money to finance.
“Why do projects suddenly appear they have inadequate justification? Contracting procedures based on poor feasibility studies coupled with inadequate supervision lead to large cost overruns and poor quality work. That’s not good value for taxpayer’s money and certainly not the kind of debt anyone would like their children to repay,” World Bank Country Manager Christina Malmberg Calvo said while speaking at the fourth national partnership forum last Thursday.
The national partnership forum is a platform, where all development partners and government come together to discuss and review progress in the national development programmes that have been financed using loans government borrowed from different creditors outside the country.
Ms Calvo said World Bank is fully aware of Uganda’s decelerated economic growth over the last couple of years and shares concerns of Ugandans about the situation matter because most of the infrastructure programmes government has implemented are not delivering value for money.
“Uganda is not reaping the returns on its public investment programme — you get less than one Shilling for every Shilling you invest. You should be getting four, five or six times your investment. What’s wrong? The public investment process is not working as it should be,” Ms Calvo said.
She also expressed concern that Uganda is headed to a population explosion of 80m people by 2040 yet the economy is decelerating.
Dr Joseph Muvawala, the executive director of National Planning Authority, lauded the Office of the Prime Minister for beginning to plan in a coordinated manner because a lot of financial resources have been injected into implementation of national development programmes but there is no data to account for what has been done.
“There is a lot of duplication of resources from the off budget financing for civil society organisations, yet there is no data and without data, you cannot show results, you cannot have good monitoring and evaluation systems,” he said.
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, who chaired the meeting, said the forum helps both government and donors to review the progress of the past year’s targets and set new ones for the coming year. The forum comprises ministries, departments and agencies’ heads and development partners.
In the 2016/17 National Budget Speech, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, announced that government was prioritising funding to strategic infrastructure projects in transport, energy and ICT. He reasoned that their development contributed immensely to increased productivity by facilitating efficient connectivity and easing movement of goods.
$220m China Uganda Agricultural Industrial Park for 25,000 jobs.
$ 3,827.54b for nationwide transport infrastructure.
$ 325m Entebbe International Airport upgrade.
$3.55bn Pipeline and access roads to facilitate oil production.