MPs on the Parliamentary Budget Committee have rejected a proposal to increase salaries of cultural and traditional leaders on grounds that it will result into more break-ups and distort social order as many will want to become cultural leaders just to benefit from the money.
Government through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development had proposed to increase monthly allowances to traditional and cultural leaders to Shs10m up from Shs5M they have been receiving.
When the leaders of the Committee of Gender brought up the matter during discussions on the 2019/2020 national budget appropriation bill, a section of MPs including Butambala County lawmaker- Muwanga Kivumbi, West Budama North MP-Okoth Othieno, Justine Khainza, the Bududa Woman MP and Cecilia Ogwal, the Dokolo Woman MP rejected the move describing the proposal as wastage of funds to an already cash strained budget.
MPs noted that traditional institutions are supposed to be supported by the communities they serve and not the whole nation.
“Those cultural institutions that cannot live by themselves should collapse, after all cultures extinguish,” Muwanga said.
Ogwal also blamed the Ministry of Gender for failing to come up with policies on how to resolve grievances in areas where cultural leadership is contested, citing an example in Lango that has been left with two cultural chiefs.
“May we now resolve that where there is a conflict as to who is to be the cultural leader, we should stop public funds from financing those institutions. I think that will show a sense of responsibility,” she said.
Her proposal was adopted by the Committee and is awaiting final debate and vote by Parliament during debate on the appropriation bill.
It should be recalled that the Ministry of Gender highlighted the privileges and benefits of traditional or cultural leaders as one of the unfunded priorities in the coming financial year highlighting that Shs632.82m is required to carry out activities in fulfillment of these requirements.
There is a total of 15 recognized Traditional Leaders by Government and each of them is paid Shs120M annually translating into Shs1.80bn annually.
However, only Shs900m was provided in the coming budget, leaving a huge shortfall.