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Teachers under their umbrella association, Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu), yesterday reacted with consternation to news that payment of the July salaries for civil servants will delay.
Teachers constitute majority employees on government payroll, and Mr Filbert Baguma, the Unatu secretary general, said news that public servants would be paid earliest August 5, was unwelcome.
“The government is aware of its obligation and whatever they are doing is not an emergency … therefore, they should not bring plain excuses that they are still working on a (payment) system when they knew that they were going to change the system,” he said.
Mr Baguma was reacting to a communication from Ministry of Public Service Permanent Secretary, Ms Catherine Bitarakwate, to “all responsible officers” in ministries, departments, agencies and local governments, that salaries for July will not be paid tomorrow, on 28, as has been the practice.
She said the ministry at the start of every fiscal year, on July 1, issues a salary structure that guides the public service on the amount of salary to be given to each category of public officer in a financial year.
“Issuance of salary structure for FY2022/2023 has been delayed. This has a spill-over effect on the timelines for processing and payment of salary for the month of July 2022,” she noted, adding: “the salary structure has been completed and the processing of salary payroll has commenced. The estimated timeline for payment of salary for July is about August 5, 2022.”
Ms Bitarakwate was unavailable last evening to clarify the reasons for delay.
However, government in the run up to the new fiscal year grappled with enhancing pay for scientists from July 1, while simultaneously balancing its act in the wake of a strike by primary school teachers and secondary school Arts teachers over disparity in remunerations.
Unatu led the industrial action, which ended in teachers returning to classrooms empty-handed after President Museveni told them at a second meeting that the government was willing to enhance pay for all employees, but prioritised the scientists due to limited resources.
Mr Baguma said the delay in salaries showed government’s negligence.
In contrast, Mr Samuel Oledo, the president of Uganda Medical Association (UMA), said they understand the harsh economic realities in the country and would not rush to blame the government.
“We totally know the situation right now, it’s not the situation of normality,” he said, citing as an additional handicap the Finance ministry’s earlier removal early this month of more than 100 accounting officers over failure to submit their respective approved budgets on the Programme Based System.
Mr Oledo said the glitches meant delayed budget execution, including salary processing and service delivery.
He, however, admitted that a week’s delay in salary payment will present discomfort to public servants.
While releasing the 2022/2023 Financial Year first quarter budget funds, Finance ministry cut the disbursed funds down by 6 percent points from 25 percent, citing cash flow constraints.
Of the Shs4. 676 trillion disbursed, Shs230b was earmarked for wages, pensions and gratuity, while Shs662 billion was allocated for servicing of domestic arrears.
In her July 25 letter referenced HRM 7/142/01, the PS implored affected staff to be patient, and asked “commercial banks and other financial institutions … to waive penalties on late loan repayments by public officers”.
We were unable to establish whether the PS has such powers to mediate lender-borrower relations, and if creditors would comply.