Kampala — Even as thousands of jobs in central and local governments remain vacant amid soaring unemployment, the government has thrown a spanner in the works by slapping a ban on the recruitment of civil servants in 2018/19 financial year.
In an April 12 letter to all accounting officers, the Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Keith Muhakanizi, directed that no recruitment should be carried out and told chief administrative officers that wage allocation for that financial year will only be provided for in post staff.
Mr Muhakanizi also directed that the proposed salary enhancement to staff should only be for in post employees.
Medical workers, prosecutors, science teachers and commissioners are some of the civil servants that benefited from the salary increment approved by Cabinet last month. Police, prisons officers and soldiers are also expecting salary increments this month.
The Ministry of Public Service had earlier directed all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) that filling of structures should be done in a phased manner subject to availability of funds.
"I further emphasised in the Second Budget Call Circular (2nd BCC) dated February 15, 2018, that wage allocation for 2018/10 was only for staff in posts and no funds have been provided for recruitment," Mr Muhakanizi states.
"You are therefore advised to defer any planned recruitment regardless of whether clearance was given by the Ministry of Public Service or not until such a time when you have sufficient budget provisions. Please note that no such funds have been provided for recruitment in the budget for 2018/19," he adds.
Parliament's Public Accounts (Local Government) Committee chairman Reagan Okumu (Aswa County) warned that Mr Muhakanizi's "unilateral" directive would boomerang and further affect the quality of services offered by MDAs.
"Even if you give resources to a district and there are no staff, services will not be delivered because the human resource capacity is not enough. This directive starves the decentralisation process, starves districts and the population. We have some districts that borrow staff. We have districts that borrow water engineers to do civil works," Mr Okumu said.
Mr Muhakanizi's order comes after Parliament's Public Accounts (Local Government) Committee report on the 2015/2016 findings of the Auditor General pointed out that of the 77,713 posts that are established in the local governments, 23,093 are vacant, implying that nearly 30 per cent of the jobs are not filled.
Mr Muhakanizi's letter is copied to Mr John Mitala (head of Public Service and Secretary to Cabinet), Ms Molly Kamukama, the Principal Private Secretary to the President, and Ms Catherine Birakwate Musingwire, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service.
The crisis of vacant government posts was also brought to the fore by the 2017 Auditor General's review of the approved staffing structures of seven ministries and 12 statutory enterprises that revealed that the Police has a staffing shortage of 28,791 personnel, followed by Uganda Prisons Service with 6,324 unfilled jobs, while the Judiciary has 2,864 empty slots.
A separate investigation by Daily Monitor in 2015 revealed that more than 32,746 public service jobs were vacant in the various government institutions as thousands of desperate unemployed Ugandans continue to scramble for the few available jobs.
Local Governments 23,000
19 selected entities 40,000
Uganda Police 28,791
Prisons Service 6,324
Public Service 32,746
Districts with high vacancies