Finance ministry in staff shake-up

The Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Ramathan Ggoobi, has promoted about 30 economists to senior economist level; rotated and deployed within as well as outside the ministry an additional 23; while having another 34 assigned other tasks. PHOTO | ISAAC KASAMANI

What you need to know:

  • In the new changes, Mr Mugunga clarified that the PSST seeks to eliminate “operational tailbacks” in the economy and expedite the much-needed recovery in all sectors of the economy.  

A massive shakeup in the Finance ministry looks set to affect hundreds of technical staff in a bid to break the “silo mentality” at the entity.

This publication understands that Mr Ramathan Ggoobi—the Secretary to the Treasury, who is also the ministry’s Permanent Secretary (PSST)—has promoted about 30 economists to senior economist level; rotated and deployed within as well as outside the ministry an additional 23; while having another 34 assigned other tasks.

The standout change has seen Mr Magoona replace Mr Laban Mbulamuko—the acting director budget. Mr Magoona was a commissioner in public administration department (directorate of budget).

Mr Jim Mugunga, the Finance ministry spokesperson, confirmed the shakeup, but was quick to clarify that Mr Mbulamuko retired gracefully.

“The PSST implemented a ministry policy informed by rotation of common cadre staff to ensure promotions, redeployments and technical cross-germination to drive a more effective technical delivery across the Ministry and broadly MDA that we service,” Mr Mugunga revealed, refusing to disclose the other names of staff affected by the shakeup.

Mr Mugunga added: “The Ministry of Finance is keen to shift gears and do things differently in order to appropriately staff and deploy technical competencies within its ranks. The PSST is a keen promoter of the one government approach to doing business and rendering technical support.” 

Without revealing the names of the affected staff, Mr Mugunga explained that “the changes are intended to among others deliver services but also enable staff to move across to gain wider spectrum expertise. The days of technical monopolies are gone.” 

He added: “Maximising existing competencies while culculatively deploying others to strengthen and learn more to grow and thrive is the agenda. This is in keeping with policy efforts to grow excellence in service, motivate, reward and promote.”

Changes galore

We understand that the affected staff include economists, accountants and procurement professionals deployed in the various ministries, departments and agencies. Several accountants and senior procurement officials attached to key dockets have been equally reshuffled and moved across ministries, departments and agencies of government.

The changes described by ministry insiders as “a private sector mindset pill”, target among other inefficiencies; a “sluggish” and “disoriented workforce” at the centre of government efforts to speed up economic recovery in the new fiscal year. 

In the Financial Year 2023/24, economic growth is expected at 5.4 percent down from 6.0 per cent in FY 2022/2023. However, in the medium term, Mr Ggoobi expects economic growth to range from between 6 and 7 percent. A pulsating workforce along with an anticipated increase in agriculture, the manufacturing sector and the general private sector will be key in ensuring significant economic growth.  

 Livid Museveni

Sources close to State House told this publication that the shakeup, which Mr Museveni at some point described as “a ministry of thieves”, was ordered by the President in consultation with Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, Mr Ggoobi and the Accountant General, Mr Lawrence Ssemakula. 

Raging over corrupt public officials, President Museveni described the Finance ministry in 2017 as “a ministry of thieves” and volunteered more details on how senior government officials in the ministry, had solicited a bribe of more than Shs15 billion from Chinese investors who wanted to establish a Shs2 trillion phosphates plant in Tororo District. 

Briefing Cabinet about the plunder in the Finance ministry and the arrest of the senior officials in the ministry, the President evoked the Biblical allusion in Matthew 6:23 to point out how “thieving officials” in the ministry sabotaged the livelihoods of more than 1,200 Ugandans who would be employed by the Osukuru phosphate factory in eastern Uganda if the venture succeeded. 

The President described by sources as ‘furious’, castigated Finance ministry officials for failing to check corruption and promised to deal with thieving officials. The President also revealed that he was investigating reports that some ministry officials struck deals with multinational lenders under the guise of raising funds for development purposes. The findings of this investigation were not disclosed to the public.                                                    Senior officials in the ministry who spoke to Monitor last evening explained that inefficiencies and poor service delivery, in part, have been blamed on lack of capacity at various stations across MDAs. 

In the new changes, Mr Mugunga clarified that the PSST seeks to eliminate “operational tailbacks” in the economy and expedite the much-needed recovery in all sectors of the economy.  

“As we roll out eGovt and eProc, improvements in IFMS and PPPs etc. our relatively well trained and grounded staff will be available for deployment within and beyond the ministry in order to enable skills transfer and capacity building. Others such as procurement officers and accountants are assignees to MDAs but remain MoF staff,” he reasoned.

The changes come barely four months after Mr Ggoobi used his authority as PS and fired more than 100 local government accounting officers over failure to submit their respective approved budget details on time. The accounting officers have since been replaced.


Mr Julius Kapwepwe, the director of programmes at the Uganda Debt Network, a national policy advocacy organisation, labelled the changes as a waste of time and called for strategic investment in ideological teaching and mindset change programmes. 

“A larger section of current crop of public servants seem disoriented about the equitable, gender responsive, competitive and comparative advantage vision of the country and NRM strategies for national development,” Mr Kapwepwe said, reasoning that “changing some half-dead wood from Ministry A to B … may not be the major intervention requirement.”  He added: “People (including civil servants need to understand the vision of NRM, rationale for respect of government service and are clear on why public service does what it does. Ideology must be practical in creating jobs for over 30 million Ugandans in disguised employment, dependency or underemployment.” 

Asked about the significance of staff shakeups in public service sector, Mr Muruli Mukasa, the minister in charge of public service said thus: “Shakeups may be compared to a wakeup call. When there is sluggishness, it’s necessary to reawaken, realign, revamp, the service for better service delivery.”  As such, the minister reiterated that “shakeups are an important part of the Options of Public Service Management can employ to meet the expectations of the citizens.”