Pro-poor orientation of budgets: The case of Uganda

by Emmanuel Kisaame and Sophie Nampewo Kakembo

Development Initiatives examines Uganda’s fiscal year 2015/16 and 2016/17 budgets, assessing their appropriateness in dealing with the poverty challenges the country faces.

Poverty reduction has been an explicit overarching objective among many developing countries and their development partners since the late 1990s. National budgets have often featured poverty reduction and/or welfare improvement as an explicit or implied objective during this period – hence the concept of pro-poor budgeting. However, the concept of budgets targeted at reducing poverty remains an area of debate, despite having a two-decade-long history. Much of the evidence informing assessments of the pro-poor orientation of budgets was gained when the concept was fairly new and focused mainly on spending.

There is more to the pro-poor orientation of a budget than the spending it sets out. This paper proposes a framework of five components to consider while assessing budgets targeted at reducing poverty, and applies four of these components to Uganda’s fiscal year 2015/16 and 2016/17 budgets. With more than half (63%) of the Ugandan population categorised as either poor or vulnerable to poverty, and yet limited evidence to suggest that public spending is properly targeting the poor and vulnerable, Uganda makes an ideal case study.

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