The Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has appealed to ministries and departments to always consider the impact on communities, particularly women, while planning government programmes.
Speaking at the launch of the National Gender and Equity Budgeting Capacity Development Plan, Kadaga said that several government programmes and legislation had sidelined already marginalized groups of people.
“The country was taxing women and children through taxes imposed on sanitary towels and diapers. We had to abolish these taxes during the budgeting process,” said Kadaga.
She said that taxes imposed on sanitary towels and diapers were part of the other taxes in the budget meant to raise revenue for government, but the movers had not considered their impact on the community.
“Recently there was an attempt to re-introduce these taxes. I discussed the issue with a Member on the Budget Committee and the proposal had to be dropped,” she said.
The launch of the National Gender and Equity Budgeting Capacity Development Plan was held at the Ministry of Finance, today, Monday 12th June 2017.
The Speaker also said that the requirement in the Financial Institutions Act for persons wishing to open up banks to have a minimum of UShs 4 billion had locked out women and youth.
“I keep wondering whether women and youth can own a bank. I think we made a mistake; now it’s only particular people who can open banks,” she said.
Kadaga also said that a new tax introduced on water had negatively affected the poor domestic users of the item.
“We need to be careful while we plan, to ensure that the community benefits,” she said.
The Minister of Finance, Hon. Matia Kasaija, apologized for the taxes on sanitary towels and diapers, which he said had been hidden from him. He argued that government can raise revenue from other sources.
He said that the Public Finance Management Act, assented to by the President in February 2015, obliges ministries, departments, agencies and local governments to address gender and equity issues in Budget Framework Papers and Ministerial Policy Statements.
Quoting various sections of the Public Finance Management Act, the Minister said that the law requires these entities to “specify measures and allocate budgets to address the different needs of men and women, persons with disability, older persons, youth and disadvantaged or remote regions for all inclusive development.”
A Certificate of Compliance to prove gender and equity responsiveness is also required when the Budget Framework Paper and Ministerial Policy Statements are being presented to Parliament.
Minister Kasaija thanked the Department For International Development (DFID) for its financial and technical support for strengthening government’s capacity for gender and equity budgeting; as well as for supporting government’s effort for prevention and response to gender based violence.
USsh 31 billion is required to fully build the capacity of government officials and civil society trainers in Gender and Equity budgeting over a period of five years.