Government releases final agencies merger list 

Mr Wilson Muruli-Mukasa, the Public Service minister. PHOTO/ FILE

What you need to know:

  • The merges will take effect in the next financial year.

The National Drug Authority and Uganda Registration Services Bureau are among key agencies that the government has retained to operate independently, ending three years of uncertainty amid intense lobbying.
Mr Wilson Muruli-Mukasa, the Public Service minister, said Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra), one of the biggest budget holders, will revert to its parent Works ministry.

The National Identification and Registration Authority (Nira) will, through a process to be staggered over five years, move to Internal Affairs ministry, according to details contained in government’s final plan to rationalise agencies.
Uganda Wildlife Authority is to be merged with Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, Uganda Human Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission will become one as will the national youth, women, children, disability and older persons’ councils.

The councils regulating medical and dental practitioners, nurses and allied health workers will be merged and so will power generation, transmission and distribution companies.
Cabinet has also decided to merge Uganda Investment Authority with Uganda Free Zones Authority and bring into one entity the National Planning Authority, National Population Council, Town and Country Planning Board and National Physical Planning Board. 
Entities created out of mergers will remain independent or semi-autonomous, while those mainstreamed will revert or be re-hatted under control of parent or line ministries.
These changes, minister Muruli-Mukasa said, will take effect from next financial year, July 1, 2023, and the government will use the intervening period for requisite legal, administrative and budget reforms.

“We understand many people are worried of losing their jobs and this is expected whenever something new is coming,” he said, adding, “We have very many vacant positions in government and some of these people will be absorbed. I, however, confirm that some people, most especially the board members and a few technical workers, will be laid off,”
In a November 25 letter to Vice President Jessica Alupo, Mr Muruli-Mukasa noted that he was disseminating the “complete decisions on rationalisation of government agencies and public expenditure…”
The journey to restructure the government entities began with a July 2017 letter by President Museveni instructing then Vice President Edward Ssekandi and Prime Minister Ruhakana to develop a blue-print to eliminate “wastage of meagre resources.” 

The re-organisation was also aimed at, among other things, realigning functions of agencies and preventing duplication of roles and waste of public funds.
Proponents at the time estimated that the mergers and or reversion of agencies to parents would save government over Shs1 trillion.
The original blueprint was for review of up to 157 agencies, with a proposal to retain 80 as semi-autonomous, return 33 to line ministries and merge 35 agencies into 19 entities.
The plan, however, ran into headwinds after the government realised that a number were either a creation of Acts of Parliament or international instruments, and scrapping them would require lengthy process to repeal the laws.

Other agencies were established to be encumbered with debts and inadequate preparation meant government was exposing itself to litigation by affected employees and other stakeholders.
By 2019, the rationalisation scheme was paused to allow for further consultations, a process that culminated into the latest decisions communicated by Public Service Minister Muruli-Mukasa.
Under the new arrangement, the bodies that examine nurses and midwives on the one hand and allied health workers on the other hand will become one while Uganda Business and Technical Examination Board (Ubteb) is to be merged with the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT).

UBTEB Executive Secretary, Mr Onesmus Oyesigye, said they met counterparts at DIT and agreed on a way forward, including the name for the envisaged hybrid examinations board.
“We shall name the new board Uganda Vocational and Technical Assessment Board (UVTAB). We shall assess all students in formal and non-formal institutions,” he told this newspaper in an interview for this article.
Already the Rural Electricity Authority (REA) has reverted to the mother Energy ministry, leading to intrigue and fight over jobs, something expected with the remaining 24 planned mergers and 19 entities to be mainstreamed under line ministries.
In the case of REA, some employees are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the rationalisation.
 

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