Common budget terminologies

Account: It is a six-digit number used to identify specific revenue, revenue deduction, expense, and transfer items.

Activities: These are tasks/ actions undertaken by institutions/individuals in the delivery of goods and services. Using an example under the road sector, activities include road rehabilitation, maintenance, and spot improvement, among others.

Activity Based Budgeting (ABB): A method of budgeting in which the activities that incur costs in every functional area of an organization are recorded and their relationships are defined and analysed. Activities are then tied to strategic goals, after which the costs of the activities needed are used to create the budget. Activity based budgeting has replaced the traditional, cost-based budgeting practices in which a prior period’s budget is simply adjusted to account for inflation or revenue growth. As such, ABB provides opportunities to align activities with objectives; streamline costs and improve business practices.

Budget: A budget is a financial plan that sets forth the resources necessary to meet a set of goals, (departmental, college, campus) for a certain period of time. The budget records, in monetary terms, realistic goals for programs, staffing, and operations. The revenue portion of the budget identifies the means for financing the plan, and the expense portion of the budget estimates the cost of the plan.

Budget Cycle: It describes a process of budget planning and control which includes the actions of developing a financial plan, comparing the financial plan to actual performance, and taking corrective action to bring substandard performance into line with the plan or adjusting the plan to reflect changing financial conditions.

Budget tracking: Budget tracking usually refers to monitoring expenditure. . It can be looked at vertically (i.e. how does money flow through a system from national to district to local level), or horizontally (how are disbursements made at one point in the system, are they regular and spent as planned?)

Disaggregated data: These are set of data/ information sorted by categories such as all economically disadvantaged groups, by age, sex, disability or location.

Equalization grant: The money to be paid to local governments for giving subsidies or making special provisions for the least developed districts and shall be based on the degree to which a local government unit is lagging behind the national average standard for a particular service.

Evaluation: The comparison of actual project impacts against the agreed strategic plans. It looks at what you set out to do, at what you have accomplished, and how you accomplished it.

Gender: Gender is the way society determines the different roles, responsibilities, and benefits to males and females varying from place to place and over time. Hence gender differences are not biologically determined like sex, but are part of the cultures, values and practices of a given society.

Gender budget: Not a separate budget for women; instead it is an approach which can be used to highlight the gap between policy statements and the resources committed to their implementation, ensuring that public money is spent in more gender equitable ways. The issue is not whether we are spending the same on women and men, but whether the spending is adequate to women and men’s needs. Gender budgets are a tool for testing a government’s gender main-streaming commitments – linking policy commitments across government departments with their budgets. They are a mechanism for establishing whether a government’s gender equality commitments translate into budgetary commitments.” Without a suitable economic underpinning, a government’s equality commitments are unlikely to be realized.

Indicators: These are a measurable or tangible signs that something has been done.

Inputs: Inputs are the resources/materials necessary to carry out tasks. They can be in form of finance, personnel and physical materials. Examples include funds, staff, land, hoes, seeds, pesticides, timber and cement, fuel, etc. These are represented by expenditure items in the budget.

Key Performance Indicators: Reveal progress towards the achievement of Vote Function Strategic Objectives. For example under Cotton Development Organization , the key output of “Farmer mobilization and sensitization for increasing cotton production and quality” contributes to the achievement of the vote function objective “To increase annual cotton production and contribute to poverty reduction through increased household incomes; and is measured by key performance indicator of “No. of bales of lint produced”.

Medium Term Expenditure Framework: It is a budget projection of projects and programs indicating the resource envelop for the next three years.

Monitoring: The systematic collection and analysis of information as a project progresses. It is aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of a project or organization. It is based on targets set and activities planned during the planning phase of work. It helps to keep the work on track and can let management know when things are going wrong. If done properly, it is an invaluable tool for good management, and it provides a useful base for evaluation. It enables one to determine whether the available resources are sufficient and being used well, whether the capacity available is sufficient and appropriate whether one is doing what was planned. Monitoring is geared towards learning from what one is doing and it is being done by focusing on efficiency, effectiveness and impact.

Outcome: This refers to the results of the deliverables. Outcomes usually cannot be attributed to a single government programme. For example, if the levels of pupil enrolments increase in Uganda, this may be due to effective educational services, but could also be improved household incomes making it more affordable for parents to send all children to school. Outcomes cannot always be seen immediately and on an annual basis. They are nevertheless important to measure as they reflect the overall objective or reason why government undertakes a particular activity.

Outcome Indicator: This indicator shows the sector’s progress in achieving the stated outcome.

Output: These are immediate products/services which are directly attributed to implementation of a particular activity by a public organization. For example kilometres of roads maintained, kilometres constructed, bridges constructed, etc. Outputs can be both tangible and intangible and can be measured periodically.

Planning: The process of setting goals, developing strategies and outlining tasks and schedules to accomplish the goals.

Projects/Programmes: Are administrative units within votes responsible for delivering services/products, overseeing transfers of services and undertaking capital investments (for example primary education department)

Quality indicator: This type of indicator is used to demonstrate the degree of change with respect to delivery of results. The indicator shows level of usability of good or service. They are often expressed as proportion; for example % of irrigation for production points adequately functioning.

Quarterly cash limits: This amount of money which every spending entity is entitled to get in a given quarter. This varies from quarter to quarter based on the resource envelope and the previous receipts from the government. These are releases of funds to spending agencies are on quarterly cash flow planning basis. The Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development indicates the quarterly cash limits allocated to each ministry for spending in the coming quarter. Releases are based upon the cash limits issued by the Ministry.

Resource envelop: the total amount of money available for spending by government in a given financial year.

Releases: This money sent from the consolidated fund account to different spending agencies which include: ministries, departments, agencies and local governments.

Revenue: this is the amount of money that government collects from both local (domestic) and international sources. The domestic sources include taxes and fees while the international sources include grants and loans.

Unit costing: This refers to the cost of providing one unit of something which has been delivered or a service, such as the provision of hospital services.

Value for Money (VFM) is the assessment as to whether or not an organisation has obtained the maximum benefit from the goods and services it both acquires and provides, within the resources available to it. Judgment is therefore required when considering whether VFM has been satisfactorily achieved or not. It not only measures the cost of goods and services, but also takes account of the mix of quality, cost, and resource use, fitness for purpose, timeliness, and convenience for users. Achieving VFM is also often described in terms of the ‘three Es’ – economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

Votes: Are the institutions which are the basis of the annual budget and appropriations made by Parliament, as well as for accountability (for example Ministry of Education and Sports). However, it is important to note that a higher local government is also a vote.

Vote Function: A vote function is a set of programmes, projects, and local government grants, defining the roles and responsibilities of a vote/institution, and contributing towards the attainment of the overall sector objectives. As such, a vote function provides detailed information on centralized services, by capturing allocations to central ministries and stand alone votes, and decentralized services funded via grants to Local Governments.

Wage and none wage: wage is the budget component which caters for the payment of salaries of people paid by government. While non wage refers to the budget allocated to the recurrent expenditures excluding wages.