The Uganda Roads Authority has welcomed Partnership with Uganda Contracts Monitoring Coalition (UCMC) in the area of promoting value for money, access to information and citizen participation in public contracts. This communication was contained in a letter dated March 3, 2014 signed by Engineer Ssebbugga Kimeze, UNRA’s Executive Director. While communicating this decision, Mr. Kimeze welcomed the intention of UCMC to pilot test the community roads monitoring tool and allocated roads where the exercise could take place. UNRA also indicated that it was reviewing a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) proposed by UCMC to formalise a structured relationship to govern rules of engagement, communication and stakeholder engagements.
UNRA recognises the importance of disclosure and citizens participation in public contracting. While addressing a policy dialogue organised by the National Planning Authority and chaired by Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, Mr. David Luyimbazi announced that Uganda was soon joining the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) to enhance disclosure and citizen engagement. “If a public agency is spending a trillion shillings and the tax payer doesn’t know anything, then there is a problem”. Mr. Luyimbazi concluded.
This decision by UNRA is a positive development and will positively impact on the work of UCMC which brings together 22 civil society organisations that are committed to constructively engage public and private sector stakeholders on strengthening value for money and citizen engagement in public contracting in the sectors of health, education, roads, extractives, agriculture and environment. Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) convenes UCMC and promotes open contracting in Africa.
The subject of open contracting has recently gained attention at global, regional and national level. The October 2012 first Global Conference adopted Global Principles on Open Contracting that outline actions governments and multilateral agencies can play to enhance contract information disclosure and citizen participation. In recognising open contracting G8 leaders in the Lough Erne Declaration Declaration held that, “Governments should publish information on laws, budgets, spending, national statistics, elections and government contracts in a way that is easy to read and re-use, so that citizens can hold them to account”
Open contracting has become a common feature of Open Government forums at regional and global level. The first Africa Regional Outreach meeting held in Mombasa, Kenya in May 2013 and the London 2013 OGP Summit discussed open contracting at great length. It is also a common feature of online and physical discussions in Uganda and around the region. AFIC General Assembly that concluded at the end of January identified open contracting and open government as part of the networks priorities in the next four years.