President Yoweri Museveni’s desire to have the ‘mushrooming’ government agencies scrapped off or merged will soon come to pass after a section of MPs backed the idea.
Last Friday, some MPs issued aa30-day ultimatum to Government to merge, scrap and downsize public Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to curtail on the duplication and wastage of tax payers’ money.
This follows a November 17th 2017 report by the Internal Security Organization (ISO) conducted between July-November 2017 that called for merging of public agencies after discovering a series of wasteful expenditures within the public sector.
Led by Solomon Silwanyi, Bukooli Central MP, the group told journalists during a press briefing at Parliament that if the Executive fails to come up with a concrete plan to curb the expenditure, they will table a Private Member’s Bill to have all the 119 agencies reviewed.
Silwanyi, who doubles as Vice Chairperson, NRM Parliamentary Caucus argued that despite the fact that these agencies were set up to improve on service delivery, this has not been achieved with many of these agencies increasing government expenditure.
Silwanyi specifically pointed out Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), saying that it should be restructured and taken back to the Ministry of Works and Transport.
“By now [UNRA Executive Director] Kagina should be packing her luggage because UNRA is the most extravagant agency. They use tax payers’ money for outings, dance halls, taking girlfriends on trips. In fact, UNRA is the worst spender on entertainment according to last year’s budget,” Silwanyi said.
The MPs argued that for the case of a few agencies performing well like Uganda Heart Institute and Uganda Cancer Institute will have their autonomy guarded, and new guidelines on how to conduct their business will be issued.
The debate on the ‘bloated’ government gained public attention following a July 17th 2017 letter authored by President Yoweri Museveni in which he called for an investigation to be carried to forge ways in which administrative units in the country would be downsized.
The President’s orders to scale down on government authorities, commissions and para-statals were given to Matia Kasaija, Minister Of Finance Planning and Economic Development, Muruli Mikasa Minister of Public Service, Esther Mbayo Minister for the Presidency, John Mitala Secretary to Cabinet and Chairman National Planning Authority.
The President noted in his letter: “I want efficiency with no further delays. You have up to December 20th 2017 to propose a plan to Cabinet.”
At the time, the President baptized the subject of his letter; ‘Mushrooming Agencies or Authorities’.
According to the ISO report, a number of Government agencies were accused of spending billions of shillings on fuel, foreign travel, consultancies and salaries, compared to their counterparts in Ministries.
Director Political Affairs (ISO) Lt.Col Joseph Aliganyira revealed that their investigation revealed that some of the said Agencies and Ministries are fond of inflating their budgets to create avenues for siphoning public funds.
David Abala, Ngora County MP questioned why with all the evidence of poor performance and corruption marring these Government agencies, recommendations to have their existence reviewed has remained just on paper, without any implementation.
He termed as absurd the expenditure of billions of funds in terms of wages amidst the tough economic challenges the country is facing.