Uganda: No Pay Raise for Civil Servants in 2018 Budget - Govt

Uganda Medical Association president Ekwaro Obuku addresses his colleagues during doctors' strike in November.
28 December 2017

Kampala — The government has not provided the Shs1.8 trillion in 2018/19 national budget required for salary rise for civil servants as had been proposed by the Ministry of Public Service under the Pay Reforms, the National Budget Framework Paper (NBFP) shows.

"Based on the proposal by the Ministry of Public Service, Pay Reform will require Shs1.8trillion next Financial Year and Shs3.6 trillion over four years. However, government cannot accommodate the requirement in the budget for FY 2018/19," the Finance Ministry states in the framework paper.

"Pay reform, therefore, has to be done in a phased manner taking into account the available resources. To accommodate this requirement, the following trade-offs require immediate action: freeze all new recruitment except those on replacement basis; indefinitely halt operationalisation of the 13 new districts and 200 town councils approved by Parliament; and, stop government grant aiding of private schools, universities and hospitals coupled with a comprehensive restructuring of Government," the ministry further states.

When Daily Monitor asked the Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Keith Muhakanizi, why the Ministry of Finance has not provided for the proposed salary pay rise for public servants in 2018/19 budget, he said it is a question for Cabinet to answer.

"That is a policy issue; Minister Matia Kasaija is the one better placed to explain it. However, what I can say is that we are making some adjustments on the salary reform pay rise that has been proposed by the ministry of Public Service to ensure we provide what we can afford based on the money that is available," he said but added he was out of office until next month.

Mr Kasaija did not answer our phone calls.

The ministry's spokesperson, Mr Jim Mugunga, told Daily Monitor that their role is to bring out realities of the budget in the framework paper at the point of releasing it but whatever comes out is the work of Parliament which allocates the budget funds.

"What has been stated in the NBFP is not final, it is to give a picture of what is available. It is the duty of Parliament to channel the available resources where they are needed most. They can find new ways of funding the budget by getting more resources somewhere else and allocate it where they want," he said.

Mr Mugunga said the Ministry of Finance is being honest on the availability of money and it is the reason it is telling government the proposed salary pay rise for civil servants cannot be accommodated in 2018/19 budget.

However, he said this does not stop Parliament from using other means to raise the required funds.

Other policy recommendations in the NBFP state that in order to address expenditure challenges, the government should finalise the irrigation policy and place its implementation under Ministry of Water and Environment to ensure proper coordination in provision of water for production by all government agencies.

The ministry said government must halt creation or operationalisation of new administrative units (districts, municipalities and town councils).

It further says there should be no creation of new agencies, including public universities.

The ministry says freezing the creation of new administrative units will enable government implement the proposed comprehensive pay reforms for all government employees in 2018/19.

"Relatedly, the policy of one secondary school per sub-county and a technical school per constituency will be reconsidered. In addition, government should stop grant aiding of private schools and hospitals starting FY 2018/19 on onwards and Moratorium on all New Recruitments across the Service," reads the Finance ministry's budget paper.

The ministry says new staff recruitment should be carried out strictly on replacement basis.

The ministry also cautioned that there should be no selective pay enhancements to avoid agitation and piece meal management of the pay-rise pressures from employees. "All enhancements will be addressed in the comprehensive pay reform," the ministry states.

The chairperson of Uganda National Association of Teachers Union (Unatu), Mr Zadock Tumuhimbise, said teachers want salary increase and it should be provide for in 2018/19 budget because they have been negotiating with government for long.

"They should take public service as a priority to motivate public servants to ensure quality in public service delivery in the country," he said.

Medical doctors in public hospitals who called off their strike recently over pay rise after government promised to address their grievances, may resume their industrial action.

The president of Uganda Medical Association (UMA), Dr Ekwaro Obuku, said they will not perform their duties at the current pay rates because government has been promising them salary increment for a long time.

He said government should put money in priority areas of public service especially medical workers.

"Uganda government has money, let them (Finance ministry) include the salary pay rise in the 2018/19 budget to enhance effective operation of doctors and other public servants. Otherwise if they do not, we are going to see multiple strikes next year by the medical practitioners and other public servants," Dr Obuku warned.

The chairman of the general of National Organisation of Trade Unions in Uganda, Mr Usher Wilson Owere, said there is a lot of wastage of public funds in government so the ministry of Finance cannot claim they cannot accommodate the salary increase in 2018/19 budget.

"I think somebody is looking for trouble this time round by not including salary increment for public servants. We are aware there is a lot of wastage of money in this country through corruption. So we want this money they are wasting to be in the budget for salary payment of public servants," he said.

In the transport sector, the ministry of Finance asked government to scale down new projects and shift focus to road maintenance as Shs100 tax will be imposed on every litre of fuel to raise about Shs202 billion annually for road maintenance.

The ministry also says the Works and Transport sector should also prioritise timely maintenance of roads to tourist sites, industrial parks and other economic zones.

The ministry further warns that no creation of Special Funds under MDAs effective 2018/19 onwards because this normally causes disjointed efforts and fragmentation of resources which undermine delivery of the desired impact.

The ministry asks government to centralise land valuation under the Office of the Chief Government Valuer to stop Ministries, Departments and Agencies from using private valuers contrary to Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act.

Over the years, Government has created a number of institutions to reduce workload on existing ones and ensure faster implementation of Government programmes or projects.

However, Ministry of Finance says while the creation of the different institutions was well intended, they have resulted in duplication of mandates, poor coordination, wastage and increased cost of administration.

"In line with the guidance from the President, the review and restructuring of Government institutions will be expeditiously undertaken to eliminate duplication, wastage and ensure efficiency. In order to identify savings to implement pay reform, Government will review and rationalise the current expenditures on non-core items for example allowances, workshops, travel inland and abroad," states the National Budget Framework Paper.

In addition, the NBFP reveals that government will review the existing agencies, authorities and departments with similar mandates for possible reorganisation and merger.

Judicial officers, prosecutors and medical workers have called off strikes for salary increment this year and the announcement by ministry of Finance no money has been provide form in next year's budget could trigger a resumption of or new industrial action by different categories of government workers.

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