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MPs Backtrack, Want Rural Electrification Agency Reinstated

Medard Sseggona

MPs have expressed regret over the decision they took almost three months ago to transfer the budgetary allocation and vote of Rural Electrification Agency (REA) to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development. The lawmakers now want the Agency reinstated independent of the Ministry.

Parliament’s change in position was alluded to by Medard Sseggona (Busiro Central) who asked Government to reconsider the decision earlier taken to disband Rural Electrification arguing that the governance challenges by REA could have been resolved by change in management not lumping it up with the Ministry of Energy that would stifle extension of electricity across Uganda.

“I am one of those that have consistently opposed to abolishment of Rural Electrification Agency (REA), with all the problems in REA which were largely managerial and that could have been sorted. You must give credit to REA in this area of distributing electricity, I think they got us from far. Now, taking this to the mother Ministry will have it dogged with the challenges that have dogged all these infrastructure issues,” Sseggona said.

He made the remarks during Parliament’s consideration of the US$331.5 million about (Shs1.241Trn) loan from the International Development Association of the World Bank Group to support the Electricity Access Scale-Up Project (EASP).

“How I wish government would reconsider the decision of abolishing REA, for me they are mainly two entities, REA and UNRA there have been issues to do with management which could have been sorted by way of looking at reappointment in those places that we would have otherwise done a fantastic job,” added Sseggona.

His sentiments were shared by Speaker Among who remarked, “On the issues of REA, give us back our REA, the management could have been bad you can give better managers but REA did a good job. There are institutions that have success stories.”

It should be recalled that in August 2022, Parliament approved the motion by Ministry of Finance for the transfer of Shs527.114Bn budget that had been allocated to REA to be transferred to Ministry of Energy, a move that saw the Agency merged with the Ministry of Energy.

Rural Electrification Agency’s merger was part of Government’s plan to review the existence of 157 entities, a move that would see 61 agencies retained whereas at least 33 other entities incorporated back to their parent ministries and the move according to Government would enable Government save Shs988Bn in wasteful expenditure.

According to the Ministry of Public Service, out of 157 Government Agencies reviewed under the Rationalisation of Government Agencies and Public Expenditure Exercise of 2018, a decision was taken to merge, mainstream and transfer the functions of 77 and 80 to be retained and the merger is intended to eliminate structural and functions duplication and overlaps, wasteful expenditures and realize resultant short term and long-term savings, in line with the approved implementation roadmap.

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