Govt plans huge pay raise for its workers

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija

What you need to know:

  • Finance minister Matia Kasaija says they have the money to implement the pay raise.

Different categories of public servants will in the next financial year starting July get significant upward salary adjustment, two senior ministers and a top technocrat confirmed yesterday.
 The Public Service ministry Permanent Secretary, Ms Catherine Bitarakwate, said they had submitted the proposals to Cabinet, and Information minister Chris Baryomunsi confirmed that they discussed and recommended scientists be prioritised for better remuneration.

 In a separate telephone interview, Finance minister Matia Kasaija told this pubication last night that they have cash to implement pay rise, which will see salaries of select employees rise by three to five-fold.
 For instance, the salary of a chief administrative officer, the top civil servant and accounting officer, is proposed to increase from Shs3.2m to 17.4m, while a director, if the salary structure is approved, will earn an additional Shs15m.

 The pay for permanent secretaries, which a few years ago jumped from Shs3m to Shs17m, has been slightly adjusted to Shs20m so that their remuneration does not equal that of supervisees.
 Among those to smile to the bank are primary and secondary school head teachers whose monthly salaries are proposed to be increased by Shs4m and Shs7.7m, respectively.
 Health workers, who over the past years repeatedly went on strike, demanding better remuneration and working conditions, will be big winners.

 For instance, the pay for medical consultants and principal medical officers (senior doctors) are set to double while the entry pay for a doctor will be Shs5m in line with the demand by Uganda Medical Association.
 Significant increases have been proposed for judicial officers, with chief magistrates to earn an extra Shs7m, while lower-level public service cadres --- nurses, teachers and police constable --- are poised to get double their current salary or slightly higher.
 In last night’s interview, Finance minister Kasaija said they are aware of the plans and, without disclosing the resulting additional wage bill, added that they will find cash to implement the upward pay adjustment.

 Asked where the money will come from, considering that the government in the next Financial Year also plans a new Shs1 trillion Parish Development Model programme spend, he said: “From the Treasury. Do you think the Treasury is broke? Would you be seeing this calmness in town? We have the money and the budget; so, public servants should get ready to eat big when Cabinet approves,” he said.

 Last year, the Public Service ministry wrote to Finance, seeking a special allocation of Shs1 trillion for the enhancement of salaries of over 100,000 public servants in the forthcoming Financial Year.
 This request came on the backdrop of multiple protests and industrial action by medical doctors, nurses, and teachers over what they called underpayment despite long working hours .
  In the new proposed figure, a doctor on joining government employment is to get Shs5m per month while public servants in U8 and U7 salary scales, the least paid government workers, will get Shs1.3m.

 Whereas Ms Lucy Nakyobe, the head of Public Service and secretary to Cabinet, feigned ignorance about the proposals, Information minister Baryomunsi, who doubles as government spokesperson, said Cabinet received, discussed the pay structure and has made some changes in the recommendation to Public Service ministry.  
 “Our position as Cabinet is that there should be a pay rise for public servants, but priority should be given to scientists and the lower-ranking civil servants. Non-scientists and the other higher positions will come in along the way,” he said.  

 The Public Service ministry expects to receive Cabinet response within a fortnight, PS Bitarakwate said last evening.  Separately, Finance ministry Permanent Secretary Ramathan Ggoobi declined to be drawn into the pay rise discussion, arguing that it is “not an important matter right now. I can’t comment about it.”
 The clamour by particularly civil servants for better remuneration amid wide pay disparity and missing salary review commission to regularise and standardise public sector rewards, has been a long-standing problem and fodder during political campaigns.

 While canvassing votes for the January 2021 elections, almost all of the presidential contenders promised to increase the salaries of government employees and security forces, if elected.  
National wage bill hits Shs7.4 trillion
 In the National Budget Framework Paper for FY 2022/23 – FY 2026/27, Finance minister Matia Kasaija had revealed postponement of salary enhancements across the board until the economy recovers and resources become available.
 “We have a demand of Shs1,900 billion for the enhancement of salaries, wages and gratuity for scientists, UPDF and integration of LDUs into the UPDF. This will raise our total wage bill from Shs5,533b to Shs7,433b next financial year,” Mr Kasaija wrote in the document.

 The Presidential Advisory Committee on the Budget also observed that the government made a commitment to enhancing salaries of public servants by 50 percent, starting FY2015l/16. However, to date, only 30 percent increment to some categories has been implemented. 
The committee recommended that the government develops a road map for the implementation of this commitment.