Kampala- A Cabinet meeting chaired by President Museveni yesterday agreed to disband or merge dozens more agencies in an ongoing massive reorganisation of government and realignment of functions.
The reforms, first raised by President Museveni last year, also aim to prevent duplication of roles and wastage of public resources.
In a July 2017 letter, Mr Museveni directed Vice President Edward Ssekandi and Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to spearhead review of government agencies that he said were a burden to taxpayers.
“Why have an agency when you have a department of government dealing with the same area of responsibility? Why have an Authority when you have department of government dealing with the same area of responsibility? Why have Boards for money-consuming units rather than money generating units?” he wrote.
Sources that attended yesterday meeting, but declined to be named because Cabinet discussions are confidential, said affected agencies will either be merged or reverted to parent ministry as a subordinate entity.
Each agency reverted to a ministry will be headed by a commissioner, another source said, while the ministry’s accounting officer will take over accountability for the absorbed unit.
Many of the affected entities are self-accounting. According to one source, the Justice Ministry is preparing an omnibus Bill to be introduced in Parliament, perhaps as early as next week, to repeal and replace laws establishing the agencies that the Cabinet decided to dissolve or merge.
President Museveni has ordered for a review of the public service with a view of scrapping, downsizing and merging government agencies and Authorities in a move he says will deal with “wastage of meagre resources”.
In a July 17 letter to the Vice President Edward Ssekanda, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda and selected cabinet ministers, Mr Museveni argued that there should only be two categories of public servants-policy makers and “money-makers” running the few government parastatals.
In the letter, Mr Museveni indicates that he has been furnished with a report compiled by the ruling National Resistance Movement which confirms his suspicion that the “mushrooming government agencies” are a burden to taxpayers.
Mr Museveni did not specify which government agencies will either be downsized, scrapped or merged.
“Why have an agency when you have a department of government dealing with the same area of responsibility? Why have an Authority when you have department of government dealing with the same area of responsibility? Why have Boards for money-consuming units rather than money generating units?” Mr Museveni asks in the letter.
The Finance Minister Matia Kasaija and Public Service Minister Muruli Mukasa have up to December 20 to propose a plan to Cabinet on how Mr Museveni’s proposed re-organization of the public service will work.
Mr Kasaija would also table a report on how much the government is spending on such Authorities.
“If the ministries of Works and Finance want to form road construction companies that will compete for construction jobs, then it makes sense for those companies to have boards and management but not a board for a unit whose only job is to award contracts using government money,” Mr Museveni wrote
In the past, the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) has consistently taken the biggest share of the budget to manage roads.
Government agencies like Unra and the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), which are semi-autonomous, determine the pay of their staff and their wage bills have often been a source of controversy with other civil servants demanding salary increment.
KAMPALA. Government is in final arrangements to move all ministries and agencies from rented premises and accommodate them under one campus to reduce its expenditures, a cabinet minister has revealed.
Finance minister Matia Kasaija said a cabinet decision has been reached to put up a government campus under Bwebajja project on Entebbe road.
According to Mr Kasaija, government spends more than Shs100 billion annually on rent costs for premises where its agencies and ministries are housed.
“Government has realised that we cannot continue spending so much on rent, but the private sector need not to fear that they are going to lose business because the economy is growing and their properties will be accommodated by other development entities,” the minister said.
Mr Kasaija made the remarks while presiding over the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) –at Uganda Road Fund (URF) head offices in Kampala.
The construction of the ten storeyed-twin tower slated to cost Shs51 billion to house the two government entities resulted from a 2013 memorandum of understanding between PPDA and URF.
Describing the project as a development plan to save the government recurrent budget payable on rent, Mr Kasaija also revealed that cabinet has resolved to amend the PPDA Act with a view of removing sections that provide for administrative reviews which delays government projects.
“We are also amending the law on land ownership to give government more powers to acquire land for infrastructure developments without huddles. We must run things efficiently and any principle in the law that is a stumbling block will be changed,” said the minister attributing delays of government projects like Entebbe Expressway and the Mubende- Kakumiro-Kibale Kagadi roads to people using the same law to demand for exorbitant money in compensation.
PPDA board chairperson, Prof Simeon Wanyama said that the construction of the joint head offices to be completed in three years’ time will provide 14,796 square meters of space where 5,825 squares will be let out to enable both agencies to recoup the capital investment in 16 years from savings and rent as well as conference costs.
Dr Merian Sebunya, the URF board chairperson said that the development seeks to help the two entities harness their common interests, constraints and complementary strengths.
She said that PPDA and URF have established a project governance structure to ensure effective coordination of management and timely oversight and policy guidance by the two boards.
“I would like to request the contractor, the supervision consultant and the joint management to ensure that we jointly deliver a high quality product within the expected time and cost, maintain good communication across the various project management levels, avoid unnecessary delays and conflicts and ensure that all funds availed to the project by the treasury are fully utilized within the financial year,” Dr Sebunya said.
She also asked the contractor to shift the burden of payment of bills for completed works to them as their employers rather than the entities going after them to complete the works.
The Cabinet has taken a decision to scrap Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and National Medical Stores and transfer their mandate to the mother ministries to reduce wastage of resources.
According to a source, the decision was taken in two meetings with the first held on August 20 and the last one on Monday last week.
The source said President Museveni was unhappy with the UNRA performance, especially in the rural areas where roads are impassable yet it is where majority of votes for his NRM party are.
Efforts to confirm the Cabinet decision with the Minister for Information, Mr Frank Tumwebaze, were futile. Two of his known mobile phones were switched off.
His deputy, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, too did not respond to our calls and message about the resolution.
The Deputy Director of Uganda Media Centre, Col Shaban Bantariza, confirmed the decision to reorganise government agencies, but said he did not have details.
“I know a decision was taken but I do not have details of how many will be affected or their status in the new arrangement status,” Col Bantariza said and referred Daily Monitor to the director of Uganda Media Centre, Mr Ofwono Opondo for further details.
However, Mr Opondo did not pick our repeated calls on his cellular phone.
Sources said Cabinet decided that UNRA be disbanded and its duties reverted to the Ministry of Works and Transport.
The roads authority started operations in July 2008 and has been managing one of the biggest fractions of the country’s budget.
According to the source, the Cabinet also took a decision that National Drug Authority and National Medical Stores that have been independent agencies, be scrapped and their tasks reverted to the Ministry of Health.
The Cabinet also resolved that the boards of the respective agencies be dissolved.
All education agencies will also be affected and workers will have to reapply for jobs under Ministry of Education and Sports.
In the new changes, electricity agencies that deal in power generation and distribution will be merged later and reverted to the Ministry of Energy.
The Uganda Registration Services Bureau and National Identification and Registration Authority will be transferred to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The sources further said Cabinet will introduce a Bill which will seek to repeal the various Acts that gave rise to the scrapped or merged agencies.
In July 2017, President Museveni wrote to Vice President Edward Ssekandi and Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda ordering them to make a plan for merger of government agencies which are becoming a burden to taxpayers.
He told Dr Rugunda and Mr Ssekandi that some agencies and departments be scrapped or merged in order to address “wastage of meagre resources.”
In the letter, Mr Museveni said he had been furnished with a report compiled by his party, NRM, which confirmed his suspicion that the “mushrooming government agencies” are a burden to taxpayers.
Mr Museveni did not specify which government agencies would be downsized, scrapped or merged but the Finance minister, Mr Matia Kasaija, and Public Service minister Muruli Mukasa had up to December to propose a plan to Cabinet on how the proposed re-organisation of government agencies will be executed.
The fate of the employees remains uncertain, but top officials such as executive directors and human resources managers will be the first to lose their jobs since parent ministries will take over their duties.
We were unable to reach Mr Frank Tumwebaze, the Information minister and Government spokesman, to corroborate the specifics of the Cabinet decisions as detailed to us my multiple sources.
He earlier tweeted that “cabinet chaired by His Excellency, Yoweri Museveni, sat [yesterday] at State House, discussed and took decisions on some items including the restructuring of government agencies”.
A press briefing is planned today at Uganda Media Centre for the minister to announce the government reorganisation.
Yesterday’s decisions, according to our sources, was a culmination of three cabinet sittings on August 20, August 27 and yesterday.
The ministers did not meet on September 3, 2018 because President Museveni was away in Beijing to attend the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit yet he had decreed that he would personally chair Cabinet meetings on the restructuring.
The ministers in yesterday’s sitting, however, agreed not to touch Kampala Capital City Authority, Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Uganda National Bureau of Standards, Uganda Communications Commission and the National Medical Stores alongside most statutory councils.
Under the new arrangement, the National Registration Services Bureau will revert to the Justice ministry while Uganda National Roads Authority, Uganda Road Fund and Transport Licensing Board will be absorbed by their parent Works and Transport ministry.
The electricity generation, transmission and distribution and the Rural Electrification Agency are to be merged into one power outfit. The Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board and Departed Asians Properties Custodian Board, Cabinet agreed, should be under Finance.
The 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 Organisation.
Affected. Uganda National Roads Authority is among the firms to be merged. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA
This newspaper was also told that the National Identification and Registration Authority and NGO Bureau will be downgraded and placed under Internal Affairs ministry. The National Information Technology Authority-Uganda has been sent back to the parent ICT ministry.
Uganda Aids Commission, Uganda Blood Transfusion Services and Uganda Land Commission are reverting to their parent ministries.
Uganda National Roads Authority
Uganda Road Fund
Uganda Railways Corporation
Transport Licensing Board
Uganda Registration Services Bureau
Uganda Electricity Generation Co Limited
Uganda electricity Transmission Co Limited
Uganda Electricity Distribution Co Limited
Rural Electrification Agency
Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board
Departed Asians Properties Custodian Board
National Agricultural Advisory Services Org
Uganda Trypanosomiasis Control Council
Dairy Development Authority
Uganda Coffee Development Authority
Cotton Development Organisation
National Identification & Reg Authority NGO Bureau
National Information Technology Authority
Uganda Aids Commission
National Drug Authority
Uganda Blood Transfusion Services
Uganda Industrial Research Institute
Uganda National Council for Scie & Tech
Uganda Land Commission
Kampala Capital City Authority
Uganda Communication Commission
Uganda National Bureau of Standards
Uganda Bureau of Statistics
National Medical Stores