Tips and story ideas for journalists on tracking budget outcomes

Journalists have a crucial role to shed light on the intricacies of the budgetary process and its impact on the lives of citizens. The first six months after the budget is read and passed, present journalists with a valuable opportunity to dissect, analyse and report on the fiscal landscape of our nation. By focusing our journalistic efforts during this time, we can uncover critical issues such as public finance management, resource allocation, revenue generation, and the socioeconomic implications of budgetary decisions. Through our reporting, we have the power to foster transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement, contributing to a more informed and participatory governance process.

Getting started

To navigate the post-budget period effectively, journalists require access to reliable information and sources to aid your reporting. Here is a shortlist of time-tested pathways to get you started on your reporting journey.

  • Familiarise yourself with the budget, the budget process, key terms and components to effectively report on its outcomes.
  • Carefully examine budget documents, such as the Budget Speech, Appropriation Bill, and Sectoral Budget Framework Papers, to identify key areas of focus.
  • Monitor key economic indicators to stay informed about issues like inflation rates, GDP growth, employment figures, and trade balances.
  • Build relationships with economists, financial analysts, and experts who can provide insights and analysis.
  • Participate in briefings and workshops organized by government institutions, think tanks, and civil society organizations to gain insights from experts.
  • Connect budget decisions to their effects on citizens’ lives, businesses, and communities.
  • Follow regional and global economic trends to understand how they impact the local economy.
  • Engage with location communities to understand the local impact of budget decisions by speaking with individuals and businesses affected.
  • Collaborate with other reporters covering finance and business to exchange knowledge and insights.
  • Participate in economic forums and conferences to gain exposure to the latest economic debates and discussions.
  • Continuously learn and update your knowledge by attending training programs, workshops, and seminars to enhance your understanding of economic concepts and policies.

15 story ideas on the post-budget period

Journalists have abundant opportunities to report on budgetary issues even after it is initially presented, providing them with ample chances to dive deep into the subject matter. This list of 15 points showcases the wide range of critical areas that can be explored.

  1. Tax administration policy and reforms: Analyse the impact of tax policy changes on businesses and individuals. Analyse the budget’s initiatives to improve tax collection, reduce tax evasion, and enhance revenue mobilisation.

 

  1. Revenue generation: Investigate the effectiveness of revenue collection efforts, including tax policies, compliance measures, and efforts to combat tax evasion.

 

  1. Public expenditure patterns and priorities: Examine the allocation of funds in the budget and evaluate their alignment with development goals. Monitor the government’s expenditure patterns during the post-budget period, particularly in high-priority sectors like health, education, infrastructure, agriculture, and social welfare.

 

  1. Public debt and government borrowing: Assess the implications of the budget’s borrowing plans on debt sustainability and economic stability. Investigate the level of public debt and its impact on the country’s fiscal stability, interest payments, and future development plans.

 

  1. Budget monitoring: Explore mechanisms and initiatives in place to ensure effective monitoring and accountability of budget implementation.

 

  1. District budget allocations: Analyse the district budget allocations to identify priorities, areas of neglect, and potential discrepancies between budgetary plans and implementation.

 

  1. Regional and bilateral trade and cooperation: Assess budgetary measures aimed at strengthening trade relations within the East African region and beyond. Analyse the budget’s provisions related to trade agreements and assess their impact on Uganda’s economy.

 

  1. Impact on development programmes: Investigate the outcomes and effectiveness of past development projects funded through the budget.

 

  1. Economic diversification: Analyse budgetary provisions and policies aimed at diversifying the economy beyond traditional sectors.

 

  1. Social protection: Examine budget allocations for social safety nets and programs aimed at reducing poverty and vulnerability.

 

  1. Business environment: Examine budgetary measures to enhance the ease of doing business, attract investment and stimulate economic growth.

 

  1. Transparency and accountability: Investigate measures to improve budget transparency and accountability in public financial management.

 

  1. Public procurement: Scrutinise procurement processes and contracts awarded national and sub-national level, highlighting any successes, irregularities, corruption risks or instances of mismanagement.

 

  1. Financial sector regulation: Examine the budget’s provisions for strengthening financial sector stability and enhancing regulatory frameworks.

 

  1. Profile communities that have experienced positive or negative impacts from budgetary decisions. Profile successful projects or initiatives funded through the budget.

Sources of information

  • Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development – Official government website.
  • Bank of Uganda – Central bank responsible for monetary policy and economic stability.
  • Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) – Provides statistical data on various economic indicators.
  • Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) – Provides information on investment opportunities and business climate.
  • Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) – Responsible for tax administration and revenue collection.
  • Development partners and international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
  • Research institutes and think tanks, such as the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC), SEATINI and Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE).
  • Interviews with economists, financial experts, government officials, industry leaders, and representatives from civil society organizations.
  • Parliamentary Budget Office – Provides analysis and advice on budgetary matters to the Parliament of Uganda.
  • National Planning Authority – Agency responsible for national development planning and policy formulation.
  • Capital Markets Authority – Regulates and oversees Uganda’s capital markets and securities industry.
  • Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives – Provides information on trade policies, investment opportunities, and business regulations.
  • Local market vendors and traders – They can provide insights into the impact of budget policies on prices, business operations, and consumer behaviour.
  • Civil society organizations – CSOs often analyse budgetary allocations and implementation, advocating for transparency and accountability.
  • Community-based organizations – These organisations can provide information on grassroots-level development initiatives and their impact.
  • Local community leaders and representatives – They can offer perspectives on the specific needs and priorities of their communities.
  • Trade unions and professional associations – These organisations can provide insights into the impact of budget decisions on workers and professionals.
  • Local economists and financial experts – Seeking input from experts at the local level can provide nuanced analysis and commentary.
  • Academic institutions and researchers – Scholars and researchers can offer in-depth analysis and studies on budget-related topics.
  • Public opinion surveys and polls – These sources can provide a pulse on public sentiment and perceptions regarding budgetary matters.
ACME Mwalimu

The African Centre for Media Excellence's training unit, known as ACME Mwalimu, scours news platforms and online resources to curate the best training tips and resources for journalists and media organisations, empowering them to become impactful contributors to public debate and development. If you have a training tip or question, you can reach out to ACME Mwalimu at training[at]acme-ug.org.

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