14 September 2018

Uganda: Why Government Merged, Scrapped Agencies

Kampala — A government report that recommended the merger of agencies also sought to get rid of money-consuming units while strengthening cash-generating ones.

The report by the Public Service ministry wanted agencies whose mandates and functions have either expired or have been overtaken by events struck off. It also recommended adjusting the law to make the retained agencies more accountable to their political leadership.

The work plans and budgets for carrying out the approved recommendations are expected to be developed within two months and implemented over nine years.

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

The 2018 report on Public Service review and rationalisation of government agencies says: "The rate of growth of public agencies has outstripped the capacity of government to sustain them, salary disparities between the agency employees and traditional civil servants have been created leading to disenfranchisement of some class of cadres."

It adds that some agencies are not managed based on sound corporate governance principles.

The report also recommends the immediate disbanding of boards of the money-consuming agencies and wants boards of money-making agencies retrained and special consideration given to specialised personnel as scientists, doctors, pilots, and the military.

But Higher Education State minister Chrysostom Muyingo yesterday told Daily Monitor that the recent Cabinet-approved merger of government agencies is still under discussion and subject to change.

"We are still discussing. A proposal was presented by Public Service to make some changes. There are still adjustments; some will need changing the law and the Constitution," Mr Muyingo said yesterday.

The report says the review exercise looked at 22 ministries and 146 public institutions, which were condensed into 77 agencies.

Only 29 per cent of the agencies were categorised as doing policy and regulatory roles, 60per cent implementing service delivery while 11 per cent were money-making.

Although the report noted that the mandate of the Defence ministry and its agencies were not duplicated, it recommended that the Auditor General investigates the performance of National Enterprises Corporation (NEC) to ensure its optimal resource use and service delivery.

NEC and its subsidiary company - the Luweero Industries Ltd is the sole producer of defence products, ranging from motor vehicles, bullets, grenades, guns, and tools for both local and export markets.

The report suggested the Uganda Investment Authority be merged with 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 and placed under the ministry of Trade to promote investment.

The report noted the functions of Uganda National Roads Authority are duplicated in the department of Roads and Bridges in the Ministry of Works and Transport and Kampala Capital City Authority and recommended that it be mainstreamed under the line ministry together with Uganda Railway Corporation, and the Standard Gauge Railway. But Civil Aviation Authority was to be retained and the East African Civil Aviation Academy made a specialised training institute.

Roles of Economic Policy Research Centre and National Population Council were found to be duplicated and proposed to be merged with National Planning Authority to improve planning.

The report noted that Agriculture presents immense opportunities for growth in other sectors and employs 60 per cent of the citizens and proposed to merge the National Animal Genetic Resource Centre and Data Bank with National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) into a single Agricultural research institution to retain the name NARO, since it embraces both animal and plant research.

They also proposed to merge the Agriculture Chemical Board, the National Drug Authority (NDA) and Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) for synergies in management and coordination.

The report also recommended that functions of Dairy Development Authority, National Agricultural Advisory Services, Uganda Coffee Development Authority, the Cotton Development Authority, and coordination office for the control of trypanosomiasis be mainstreamed under the Ministry of Agriculture.

Because of overlaps, it was proposed that four agencies, namely Uganda Electricity Generation Company Ltd, Uganda Electricity Transmission Company, Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Ltd, and Rural Electrification Agency be merged into Uganda Electricity Agency.

Also, the Electricity Regulatory Authority will be merged with Petroleum Authority to form the Uganda Energy Regulatory Authority. But it was also proposed that another alternative can be sought to create a utilities board where water and electricity can be combined for synergies.

National executive service commission

The Public Service Commission and that for Education, and Health will be merged to create a national executive service commission. The National Drug Authority, the Agricultural Chemicals Board and the National Bureau of Standards will be merged as the Uganda National Health Research Organisation, while the Virus Research Institute, the Joint Clinical Research Centre, and the National Chemotherapeutic Research Institute will form the Uganda National Health Research Organisation.

The report also noted that because of weak institutional framework, the functions for delivery of business process outsourcing and e-governance services are duplicated between NITA-U and the directorate of IT and IMS in the ministry of Information.

They recommended to merge NITA-U and Uganda Communications Commission into a single communications services regulator.

It was also proposed that New Vision Printing and Publishing Company Ltd be merged with Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation Ltd to improve service delivery and eliminate duplication.

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