On behalf of the Chairperson of the PN, Hon. Stephen Mukitale thanked the Country office for organizing the meeting and the open engagement outlining that Parliament needs to have a good understanding and appreciation of development partner support to be able to monitor implementation progress of these operations. “Having appropriate and adequate information enables Parliament to undertake its oversight role more diligently holding the different Government institutions accountable for development support that they receive,” said Hon. Mukitale.
Franklin Mutahakana, Senior Operations Office in the World Bank Country Office made a presentation to the MPs highlighting the economic environment and aspirations of the country to transform to middle income status, areas needing attention to support the transformation process, the Bank’s on-going operations, performance of the portfolio including measures being taken to improve portfolio performance and impact registered in selected areas, sectoral distribution of the national and regional portfolio and how this support is aligned to national development priorities. The presentation also highlighted the status of project development in FY14 which resulted in a record lending to the country. The presentation concluded by outlining the projects awaiting Parliamentary approval and the pipeline for FY15.
The presentation generated questions from members of the Parliamentary Network and a platform for discussion. Discussions centered on the following issues:
• M&E mechanisms for the Bank to monitor the support it provides to Uganda. Related to this was the issue of capacity within the country to effectively utilize bank support and whether the Bank assess implementation capacity when developing the projects taking into account that the same capacity is demanded by many development partners. In response, the Bank confirmed that capacity of the Implementing Agencies is assessed and in cases where such capacity has been found not adequate measures have been designed in projects and programs to address the capacity constraints including support for strengthening financial management and procurement management of various government institutions. The MPs expressed appreciation with the decentralization model of the procurement that was employed under the Education project. Development Partners engagement with Peoples’ representatives (Members of Parliament (MPs)) enables the MPs to know what is coming and what is available in the form of development partner support to Government and therefore able to call on Government to account for the development partners support received. People reply on MPs as their leaders.
• Engagement that the World Bank is undertaking with Government in preparation for the next country development agenda. MPs were informed that the Bank is working with the National Planning Authority (NPA) in the preparations for development of Second National Development Plan (2015-2019) through providing financial support to various forums organized by NPA and through technical participation in working groups developing sector issues papers.
• Climate change and impact on the environment and addressing the issue of access to safe water. The discussions noted that water is very important and hence crucial that the Bank supports the water sector including access to safe water in rural areas.
• The cost of debt to the country and implications for the country’s strategy to finance development and fiscal space. The question of fiscal space vis-à-vis concessional vs. non-concessional borrowing was raised. The Bank team informed the meeting that Uganda currently accesses IDA funds which are on concessional terms accruing very low interest and with a long duration. The Bank under IBRD finances middle and high income countries on non-concessional terms. The MPs requested the Bank to share with them guidelines for commercial borrowing. The Bank’s integrated support in the energy sector was noted where the Bank has supported electricity generation, transmission and connections. The Bank’s support for rural electrification was particularly appreciated.
• The question of Bank support to the Agriculture sector was raised and if the regional approach is working better than the national approach. The Bank informed
the MPs that support to the Agriculture sector is at both national and regional levels and implementation is guided by national requirements for the national support and regional requirements for the regional support. Agriculture remains a key sector for the Bank’s engagement in the country and the region with current on-going projects and pipeline projects.
• The question of Bank support to the private sector to enable the private sector effectively benefit from public investments like roads was raised. The Bank team informed the meeting that the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is specifically structured to support the private sector and is already engaged in various private sector activities in the country. In addition, some Bank programs like the Competitiveness and Enterprise Development project is designed to include private sector support especially to the Tourism sector. The MPs indicated that they are not getting enough information about Grants to support their oversight responsibilities and requested that the Bank share with them more information on Grants to enable them monitor implementation better.
• The question of Bank support to the urban sector and physical planning in light of high population growth rate. The Bank team informed the meeting that the Bank is supporting Government in the formulation of a National Urban policy. In addition there are dedicated projects to support core urban infrastructure in Kampala City and fourteen Municipalities, plus support to the Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban development to prepare an integrated Physical development Plans Framework for the Albertine Graben Region covering 25 Districts.
The MPs invited the Bank to engage with Parliament on the MDGs and post MDGs discussions.
It was agreed that the meeting between the Bank and the PN should be more regular and it was suggested that this could be held quarterly. Breakfast meetings were noted as most preferred.
Contributed by the World Bank Country Office in Uganda
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