The government this week started a process to scrap or merge up to 71 semi-autonomous agencies. In the process, there will be up to 15,000 job losses. On the other hand, government will be saving Shs1 trillion each year in overhead expenses following the reorganisation.
Any government struggling to pay its workers and extend services to taxpayers would do everything possible to cut down expenditure and save money, which can then be channelled to other priority areas.
Over the years, many agencies were formed ideally to improve service delivery. However, it was also meant to create jobs for people on political reasons and other considerations. Many employees in agencies take home fat salaries, allowances and their top managers drive fuel guzzlers as the economy bleeds.
Moreover, these agencies or authorities are created to perform the same or similar roles and duties as a department in the parent ministry. The cost implications of these agencies to the economy was not taken into consideration given that they were expected to perform much better than the parent ministry.
But the same attractive pay has led to a crusade for pay raise for civil servants in the parent ministries, a demand that the government cannot easily afford.
It would be unfair to say that these agencies have not been of any use though. They have created jobs for the youth in a country struggling with high rates of unemployment. Some have been renting and thus supporting the struggling real estate industry. Because some of these agencies have been self-accounting, they have been able to respond to emergencies in real time instead of going through the hectic bureaucracy systems that characterise ministries.
In collapsing many of these agencies, the government should give a grace period for a smooth transition. Workers who will lose jobs have families to take care of, some with loans hovering over their heads.
Besides, if the government is committed to cutting costs and channel the funds to critical areas of the economy, then it should not stop at merging or collapsing only agencies. Other areas the government should focus on include Parliament, which at about 456 members, is way too big and costly. The government should also trim the size of Cabinet, which currently stands at 83 ministers. Having only half of this number could lead to big savings too. There is also no need to have nearly 100 Presidential Advisers as well as hundreds of Resident District Commissioners and their deputies.
Finally, there are many units in State House that duplicate work that ministries can effectively handle. There is no need to duplicate roles given the high expenses involved.
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