Kampala — President Museveni has said government will not pay salaries to Local Council One chairpersons countrywide as had been anticipated but reaffirmed they will receive an ex-gratia of Shs120,000 per year.
The President's announcement was delivered by State Minister for Water, Mr Ronald Kibuule, while meeting LC1 chairpersons in Mukono District on Monday.
Mr Kibuule said Mr Museveni had received appeals for payment but government was not able to commit itself on the matter given the budget constraints.
"I would like to inform you that we do not have money to pay the LC1s and members of their committees. We cannot pay LC1 chairpersons independently. We have to pay all of them but we do not have any money to facilitate this kind of budget right now," Mr Kibuule said referring to the President's message.
In his New Year speech to the nation, Mr Museveni instead advised LCs and NRM party structures to form Savings and Credits Cooperative Organisations (Saccos) through which government would channel support to them.
"We need to wait until we grow our financial base through oil and others. I encourage you to make Saccos which government is ready to finance. Also, take opportunity in the current government programmes such as Operation Wealth Creation (OWC)," he said.
Speaking at his country home in Rwakitura, Kiruhura District, Mr Museveni said government recognises the sacrifices the LCs and NRM structures make to serve the country at the expense of personal development.
Most of the LC1 and LC2 leaders used their swearing in ceremonies to ask government pay them at least Shs150,000 every month.
This means government would spend Shs9.1b per month to pay 60,800 LC1 chairpersons countrywide far higher than the current total of Shs608m spent on ex-gratia of Shs10,000 per person per month which translates into 120,000 in a year.
Mr Kibuule, without giving specific timelines, said Mr Museveni had pledged to provide bicycles to LC1 chairpersons for villages that did not benefit from the previous batch which was hit by procurement scandals.
The senior presidential press secretary, Mr Don Wanyama, yesterday said there was no way the President would commit to paying a monthly salary to LCs without introducing the matter to Cabinet and harmonising it with the Ministry of Public Service.
When contacted, the State Minister for Local Government, Ms Jeniffer Namuyangu, said there is a plan to increase the amount of money for the LC1 chairpersons' ex-gratia of Shs10,000 but it would not be a monthly salary. She was, however, cagey on how much the LCs could get if the ex-gratia is reviewed.
"We are planning to just modify the current ex-gratia that the LCs get. It will be a little more than what they get right now but not a salary as such. We do not have enough money for a salary and that is why we are just trying to look around for something small," Ms Namuyangu said.
She said the technical team has designed a paper with the suggested modified ex-gratia rates which will be sent to Ministry of Finance to issue a certificate of financial implication before a cabinet memo is prepared for approval by Parliament.
During Mr Kibuule's meeting, some LC1 leaders said it would be better if government supported the whole committee and not only the chairperson.