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To cut wage bill, Uganda falls back on 10-year plan

by kenya-tribune

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In an effort to cut government expenditure and stop duplication of roles, Uganda is scrapping some agencies and authorities and merging others.

At least 25 agencies are targeted in the new drive revealed in a draft proposal by the Ministry of Public Service to the Cabinet as a response to a letter by President Yoweri Museveni last year.

In the July 17, 2017 letter to Vice President Edward Ssekanda, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda and select Cabinet ministers, President Museveni argued that there should only be two categories of public servants policy makers and money-makers running the few government parastatals.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Service Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwiire told the media that the move to merge and also scrap some agencies and authorities had partly been made inevitable by the need to reduce the national wage bill.

According to the Public Service Ministry, the affected agencies will be those whose mandate has expired, been overtaken by events or whose roles are duplicated.

The medium-term recommendations will be implemented between 2019 and 2022 while the long-term ones will run up to 2028.

The report suggested that the Uganda Investment Authority be merged with the Uganda Tourism Board, Uganda Export Promotion Board, and Enterprise Uganda, and the Uganda Free Zones Authority to create a single entity – the Uganda Development Board under the Ministry of Trade.

The report also noted the functions of the Uganda National Roads Authority are duplicated in the Department of Roads and Bridges in the Ministry of Works and Transport and recommended that it be mainstreamed under the line ministry together with Uganda Railways Corporation, and the standard gauge railway.

The government says that the mergers will save close to Ush1 trillion ($261 million), reduce salary disparities within the civil service and provide funds to put into other sectors. According to the Public Service Ministry, agencies have been taking about 37 per cent of the entire national wage bill which now stands at Ush4.6 trillion ($1.2 billion) this financial year.

Uganda’s Minister of Information and National Guidance, Frank Tumwebaze, told The EastAfrican that this was part of the government’s 10-year public sector reforms held once a decade to review the efficiency and functionality of government.

“We shall follow a logical process. Most of these agencies are created by an Act of Parliament. We will either amend or repeal the laws. The Public Service Ministry will have a road map between one and three years but that will not take place before the government makes a policy pronouncement,” Mr Tumwebaze said.

Agencies that own assets will return them to the sector government ministries.

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