On Tuesday, July 8, 2014, I identified wild budget votes for salaries in the Ministerial Policy Statement (MPS) of the Office of the President. For starters, an MPS is a detailed breakdown of government activity plans with budgetary indicators for expenditures. I noticed that in the one for the President’s Office, the vote for salaries was breathtaking.
I must note that it was not yet time to discuss the Ministerial Policies or the Budget. Rather the issue on the floor was about delayed or fractional payment of salaries of teachers and medical workers. The tales and lamentations by members was disheartening. Realising that I had just seen the figures of the salary scale of staffers in the Office of the President, I thought the comparisons were startling. As a whistle blower, I quickly stood up on the floor of Parliament and raised the matter.
I pointed out that while we lament about the delay of salaries of teachers and other unprivileged civil servants, you will be shocked to learn about the earnings of civil servants in the Office of the President. I went ahead to state the figure as recorded in the MPS and hell broke loose. Like they say, “…the rest is history”.
Well, the Minister in charge of the Presidency Frank Tumwebaze came out to “right” the “wrong”. The minister said very boldly that all those pages of figures were mere mistakes by the typists that had hitherto not been seen by anyone in the ministry including himself who personally signed the document.
First and foremost, the minister duly signed the document that he has now disowned. Common sense suggests that he must have studied the document, sighted the typo errors before signing it. At the very least, he must have been briefed about its contents before signing.
Normal practice of supervision would have demanded that, in the process of putting together data for the document, there must have been consultations of different experts of different departments to verify every bit of information. And once the document is put together, it goes through an elaborate process of editing. Certainly there must have been several people who looked through the document editing it to ensure that everything is correct. Indeed, having looked through the document, I don’t see grammatical errors, meaning the editing process was thorough.
But all that discussed so far only form the secondary components of evidence that the original document had no errors. It is the changes being made now that have errors. The changes themselves are desperate attempts at damage control. Looking back to the same statement in 2013/14, the salary figures were deliberately omitted and only the scales shown.
The addendum which is alleged to have been submitted to Parliament earlier before I blew the whistle is shameful propaganda. There is no evidence whatsoever that the Speaker or any of the MPs were aware of the said addendum. If so any MP should have stood up to provide information according to our Rules of Procedure.
Instead the entire House was listening in total bewilderment at the bizarre figures I was reading from the document. Therefore, for the minister to purport that we had the corrected version of the document is an insult to the intelligence of MPs.
Well, if there is anything in the so-called addendum of Tumwebaze, it can only be contradictions and damning incompetence. The contradiction is that having reasoned that the mistake was that they got what should have been annual salaries of staffs and tabulated them as monthly salaries. As such every figure in the original document was merely divided by 12. To imagine for example that a one Tamale Mirundi who was indicated in the original document to earn about Shs9m per month now taking home a paltry Shs800,000 is laughable.
Another evidence that leaves the changes of the figures into disrepute is the manner in which the letter communicating the changes was written. The poor sentence construction is evident of the rush with which the so called addendum had to be written. There is also evidence in the record book in the Clerk to Parliament’s office where the glare of desperation is so loud how the receipt of the addendum was entered in the book.
Well, Ugandans have benefited from the errors and tricks in government, for they now know that there are people in high profile government offices who are being paid colossal sums of money yet they do not do what they have to do. This was confirmed the following day after me blowing the whistle by the minister on the floor of Parliament when he apologised to Ugandans.
Ms Ogwal is the Dokolo Woman MP