Shaping Uganda’s fiscal policies from a people centered perspective


Since 2004, the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) has continued to bring together Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) at national and district Levels to influence Government decisions, on resource mobilization and utilization for equitable and sustainable development. CSBAG has a membership of 100 CSOs with 45% of these from the sub national level.


CSBAG works through an outreach structure from grassroots to the National level. In the districts of Kibaale, Abim, Agago, Sheema, Rubanda, Kanungu, Bushenyi, Pader, Budaka, Kakumiro, Kabale and Kibuku 1200 citizens are organised into Participatory Budget Clubs that engage the planning and budget process at the lower local governments.

CSBAG members work through 10 Thematic Working Groups of Health, Education, Agriculture, Energy, JLOS, Accountability, Roads, Trade and Tourism, Water and Environment, Social Development to ensure National resource allocation, mobilization and utilization is people centred and gender sensitive.

In 2017, CSBAG established 9 Regional Budget Coalitions (RBCs) composed of CSOs operating in the regions of Kigezi, Bukedi, Sebei, Soroti, Bugisu, Busoga, Bunyoro, Tooro, and Ankole. This is part of our broad objective of increasing representation as well as consolidating the subnational CSO voice and action across the country for a people-centred budget. Through these RBCs, CSBAG for the first time mobilised 127 sub-national CSOs from 61 districts to engage various budget advocacy interventions in 2017.

CSBAG in 2016 partnered with like-minded MPs and established a Parliamentary Forum on Public Finance Management to have Uganda’s Parliament at the forefront of supporting prudent Public Finance Management reforms.


Influencing National and Local Government Budgets

Every Financial Year, CSBAG mobilises member CSOs to contribute to shaping national budgets from a pro-poor and gender perspective. CSBAG has indeed re-directed the position of Government on key issues that concern ordinary citizens in the National Budget. In conformity with this, for the last 5 financial years (FY 2014/15-FY 2018/19), 503 CSO alternative budget proposals were made to 11 sectors and 177 were fully adopted by the Parliamentary Committees. The best uptake performance has so far been registered in FY 2017/18 where 52% of our alternative budget proposals were adopted by Parliament of Uganda.

Financial Years Adopted budget proposals Submitted CSBAG proposal % rate
FY 2014/15 357745
FY 2015/16 358039
FY 2016/17 359044
FY2017/18 478152

Enhancing Citizens Participation in budget accountability work

Citizen Involvement in the budget process is critical to ensuring that services that are due to them are provided in the right quantities, quality and time. Through the CSBAG Participatory Budget Club (PBC) model, citizens are empowered to demand for improved service delivery from the duty bearers. In 2015 alone, a total of 42 accountability and service delivery issues were addressed by duty bearers because of the citizens’ vigilance in Abim, Agago, Sheema, Kibaale and Kibuku district. 57 % of these were in the Health Sector, followed by 43% in Education, the Justice Law and Order and Sector and Roads.

Strengthening CSO linkages and collaboration with Government at National and Local Level

To date, CSBAG is member to 9 Government public finance management bodies at National and Local level. We have utilized these spaces to bring to the fore the citizens voice on public finance management issues. In 2015, CSBAG was appointed to the Public Expenditure and Management Committee (PEMCOM) chaired by Ministry of Finance. In 2017, CSBAG was appointed to the Economic Management Group also chaired by the Ministry of Finance. The EMG’s core focus is to support Government improve its overall economic management. Still, our respective strategic engagements with Local Governments, IMF and World Bank on initiatives around Public Expenditure Management and fiscal transparency have continued to improve. In 2018, Ministry of Health Invited CSBAG to the National Immunization Fund Board and the Ministry of Finance made CSBAG member to the Private Sector Working Group.

Building linkages for effective citizen led advocacy

CSBAG works to increase synergies between CSOs at national and local level for a stronger collective voice on pro-poor resource allocation and utilization. This has been effective in our public campaigns against-through these linkages we ably mobilized over 4million signatures to Petition the President over Tax exemption move by MPs in 2016, in 2015 we mobilized citizens who petitioned Parliament and it dropped Government proposal to tax Agricultural inputs. In 2018, CSBAG mobilized citizens, private sector, CSOs to campaign against the 1% tax on mobile money transactions (sending, receiving and withdrawing). This campaign saw Parliament of Uganda withdrawing the Excise Duty (Amendment) Act, 2018 and revising the tax to 0.5% only on withdrawals. These linkages and partnerships are also vital to the CSO Government budget performance monitoring work that CSBAG does at the Local Government level which started in the Financial Year 2014/15.

Increasing access to dependable, simplified and analyzed information for effective budget advocacy

Whereas Government of Uganda in 2015 improved its ranking in open budget systems by the Open Budget Index-2015, Uganda’s budget documents are still inaccessible especially at Local Government level, and they are complex and written in an exclusive language that is difficult for an ordinary citizen to comprehend. To reverse these trends, CSBAG continues to produce simplified, timely and analysed budget information. These publications (available on the CSBAG website) have enabled citizens to use this information to shape key government decisions on the budget and public finance management .

Key public finance management policy changes CSBAG contributed to over the years

Making citizens' concerns central in the public finance management Act, 2015: (read more)
CSBAG’s core focus is to have Government develop and implement Public Finance legislation and programmes that impact positively on the marginalised. In effect, Government incorporated 50% of the CSO proposals on the Public Finance Management Act, 2015. CSBAG and its members including FOWODE specifically succeeded in making Uganda the first country in the world to have a Certificate for Gender and Equity in the Public Finance laws of Uganda.
Promoting Access to Budget Information: (read more)
The enforcement of rules on displaying budget information at all service delivery units - a practice that was beginning to fade away; The FY 2016/17 CSO budget performance monitoring reports revealed an upward trend. At health center level the percentages improved from 76% in health centers in quarter 1 to 90% in quarter 4. The same positive trends were registered at school level (84%)
Improving Public funds disbursements: (read more)
Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in FY 2017/18 introduced key measures including training Accounting Officers in the release process, shifting all Local Governments to the IFMIs to improve the quarterly release process- This was partly influenced by the evidence from the CSO budget performance monitoring conducted on a quarterly basis
Reducing the bloated Public Administration Cost: (read more)
Government of Uganda committed to restructure all Government Institutions to rationalize expenditures within Agencies, Authorities and Departments with similar mandates. This was communicated in the National Budget Strategy FY 2018/19
Shaping Tax policies from an equity and progressive perspective: (read more)
CSBAG public campaign against the proposed 1% Tax on Mobile Money for FY 2018/19 led to Government reducing this Tax to 0.5% only on withdrawals.
Strengthening Tax policy for improved Local Government Financing: (read more)
Our advocacy for improved Local Government financing influenced Government of Uganda move to review Local Service Tax in FY 2017/18 to review exemptions with an aim of improving LG revenue mobilization
Single Treasury Account: (read more)
CSBAG contributed to the reform of introducing the Treasury Single Account (TSA) where Government of Uganda now has one single account. The previous cash flow challenges experienced as a result of many accounts at every stage have been eliminated.
Direct Transfer of Funds: (read more)
CSBAG also through its advocacy contributed the reform of direct transfers to Health and Education service delivery centers, which was introduced FY 2014/15. Today, by the 10th month of a new quarter, Ministry of Finance, disburses funds to the service delivery units. This contributed greatly to eliminating delays in the delivery of timely and quality services to the citizens.
Program Based Budgeting: (read more)
Back in 2016, during one of our high level engagements on the budget with Ministry of Finance, and Parliament, CSBAG specifically put to the Director Budget at Ministry of Finance; the quality of planning in Government sectors. We advocated for sector compliance to the reform in the planning formats of Government which puts emphasis on the interventions and the related outcomes. Government in FY 2017/18 started rolling out Program Based Budgeting to all Ministries Departments and Agencies and due to CSBAG insistence on this matter, CSBAG was in 2017 assigned the responsibility of assessing the pilot of this budgeting system and provided recommendations which Government shall utilize as it scales up this approach in ensuing financial years.
Reviewing Procurement Laws: (read more)
In order to improve on procurement glitches especially reducing on the procurement time, government in 2017 embarked on reviewing the PPDA ACT, 2003. As a member to the PPDA Act, 2003 Review Task Force, CSBAG officially submitted input to inform this review process.