Gulu Struggles to Stay Alive Amidst Insufficient Revenue
Gulu district local government is struggling to remain operational and provide basic services like health and education to its residents owing to insufficient funding.
The district that has in the past relied largely on donor funding is facing an uphill task to raise adequate revenue locally without banking hopes on the central government grants that sometimes are disbursed late.
Sebastian Willy Okello, the chairman of the district finance, planning and administration committee said that the district was operating without money. He said critical requirements like fuel was being obtained from fuel stations on credit with the promise to pay later when money is acquired.
However, the problem is beyond administration of the district. Vincent Ochieng Ocen, the District Education Officer says that his department has so far received only 3 billion shillings out of the 6 billion that was approved for the department.
Jane Lamony Akello, the Gulu chief finance officer explains that the shortage arises out of low revenue accruing to the district. She says that the district has managed to raise only 9 billion shillings out of the budgeted 23 billion shillings since the current financial year begun. The financial year begins in July and ends in June.
Akello added that the difficulty to realize substantial funding is due to a decline in the contribution from donors who used to finance more than half of the district budget. The fall in the donor funding has been attributed to the departure of many Non Governmental Organizations that were operating in the district.
To curb the problem of low revenue base, Akello said the district plans to increase local revenue mobilization and collection by constructing new sub county markets as well as carrying out update of revenue and tax payers registers. She explained that other measures would include increased sensitization of the public on local revenue collection and extending property valuation in more growth centres.
Michael Oyat, a sub county chief for Bungatira Sub County says that they have dispatched a team of parish chiefs to sensitize the community on a revenue collection sensitization campaign to boost the level of local revenue.
The problem of low revenue in most local governments increased following the abolishment in 2005 of graduated tax, which used to provide a major source of local revenue to the institutions.