Government has been criticized over failure to implement the proposed merger of mushrooming government agencies and departments, with MPs saying the slow pace of carrying out the said exercise has left staff and donors anxious on their next move.
Taking to the floor of Parliament during today’s plenary sitting, Kiboga East MP, Keefa Kiwanuka said that although government announced that departments and agencies were going to be merged in a move that would result into mergers, abolishing and scrapping of some agencies, returning others to their mother ministries with about 53 agencies merged and 20,000 employees losing their jobs, nothing has been done about the matter.
Kiwanuka noted that Frank Tumwebaze, Minister of ICT and National Guidance had earlier said the merger would see Uganda save about Shs1Trillion in salary and wages, a move that was welcomed by Ugandans as a way of avoiding duplication and cutting down wasteful expenditure.
“However, it occasioned a lot of distress; waking up in the morning not knowing whether you will have a job, banks declined lending to some agencies, investors who would have invested in some agencies got nervous about the move and some donors are nervous about whether some agencies they are funding will continue existing or not. There has never been a briefing to Parliament. Isn’t it about time that Government briefs Parliament about the time frame of these mergers. Give an update on the matter. How is government managing change which causes anxiety?” asked Kiwanuka.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga told Deputy Prime Minister, Moses Ali that the matter continues to cause anxiety and pointed out that some of the proposals for mergers were queer.
“Then Government published them and kept quiet. When will the country know whether you are merging or not or leaving everything so that people can settle down,” Kadaga said.
In response, General Moses Ali acknowledged that although Government had committed to carry out the mergers, there were complications detected along the way which saw the executive call in the Attorney General to save the situation.
“It is true this action was being taken but midway, we realized that it wasn’t easy to finalise the matter. As of now, cabinet has asked the Attorney General to examine these areas. The House should be patient with us,” said Moses Ali.
Kadaga scoffed at Moses Ali’s proposal wondering how all these Acts will be annulled yet the same Executive has failed to process some of the bills they promise and tasked the Prime Minister to update the country on how far the Executive has gone with mergers.
“I can’t imagine if Government has failed to bring the bills they proposed in the State of the nation. When will they bring all those Acts? So what does the public hear from you, that you still intend to merge,” Kadaga said.
Agencies to be merged
It should be noted that in 2018,Cabinet has since approved a proposal to merge the institutions and mainstream their activities with their mother ministries.
Government said that agencies totaling 153 were spending 10.8 trillion Shillings annually on wages, rent and other operational costs.
The affected institutions included the National Council for Higher Education, National Curriculum Development Centre and the Directorate of Industrial Training that was to be merged into one Council.
Uganda Tourism Board, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Uganda Wildlife Education Centre will be mainstreamed to the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, while the Insurance Regulatory Authority, Uganda Retirement Benefits Authority, and Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority, was to be merged to create specialized directorates from non-bank supervision within the Bank of Uganda.
Others to be mainstreamed to mother Ministries are; Uganda National Roads Authority to the Ministry of Works, National Identification and Registration Authority-NIRA to Ministry of Internal Affairs and National Information Technology Authority-NITA to the Ministry of ICT and Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority (UMRA) to the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Development among others.
Under the new arrangement, Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries ministry will absorb National Agricultural Advisory Services, Uganda Trypanosomiasis Control Council, Dairy Development Authority, Uganda Coffee Development Authority and Cotton Development Organization.
The Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board and Departed Asians Properties Custodian Board were to be pushed to the Finance Ministry while the Electricity Generation, Transmission and Distribution and the Rural Electrification Agency will be merged in a process that will result into loss of jobs for over 70 Executive Directors.