Local Territorial Reforms in Uncontrolled Motion in Uganda. Fiscal stressor or Service Delivery?

Mr. Andrew Matsiko

The five-tier system of local governments in Uganda came in the response to the territorial reforms among others, for instance, participatory, management, functional and fiscal reforms at the heights of implementation of decentralisation systems of governance and the democratic waves in 1980s. In Uganda, the decentralised reforms of governance heightened immediately after the guerrillas of the National Resistance Movement/Army (NRM/A) overthrew the regime of Milton Obote and the subsequent military juntas in 1986 under which the government brought political, fiscal and management power from the centre to local authorities. The local authorities gained territorial and fiscal autonomy among others, which they used to plan, budget and implement the interests of the locals with less interference from the central government. However, in early 2000s, the local territories in the pretext of implementation of territorial reforms have grown uncontrollably while outweighing the capacity of the local governments to manage and sustain the delivery of local public goods.
Against this background, the study seeks to explore the state of local public finances in the times of rapid and uncontrolled expansion of local governments in Uganda. Here therefore comes a number of research questions: has territorial expansion stressed the local fiscal capacity to finance local public goods? Why does the central government proliferate local governments? does it undermine local fiscal autonomy? Does it undermine the voice of the locals? How does the local territories finance local public goods? The study therefore uses the local financial datasets and reports to analyze the implications of the uncontrolled proliferation of local territories on the fiscal capacity and autonomy as well as delivery of local public goods in local governments in Uganda.