Parliament, Executive clash over govt agencies merger

Members of Parliament (MPs) are seen during plenary session chaired by Speaker Anita Among on Febuary 28, 2024. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Day two of Parliament’s consideration of the government agencies merger related Bills was also adjourned prematurely.

A section of Members of Parliament have accused the Executive of doing a shoddy job in preparing of rationalizing and merging of its agencies, exposing loopholes they say could undermine the much-needed public sector reform.

These concerns emerged after Parliament’s ICT committee blocked the dissolution of the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U), whose roles government had proposed be taken over by the ministry of ICT.

In its report, the committee argues that the Authority performs unique duties not done by any other government entity, and earns the State considerable revenue, contrary to reasons advanced by the Executive for its abolition.

Government has argued that rationalization of select agencies aims to cure duplication of roles, and cut down the financial drain on its resources and the burden of wasteful administration and expenditure.

“The Committee observed that the certificate of financial implication provided had inadequacies since it lacked estimations of the revenue and expenditure for at least two years. This made it harder for the Committee to evaluate the alleged drain by NITA-U on the consolidated fund and the saving that would arise from the mainstreaming NITA-U,” the report reads in part.

“All the foregoing demonstrate that NITA-U has not caused any financial strain on the consolidated fund as it meets its own costs of operations and further adds money into the fund while at the same time saving Government other costs,” it adds

The committee also reported that the ministry of ICT failed to implement key projects now under NITA-U, key among them advancing the digital agenda.

It is on this basis that day two of Parliament’s consideration of the Bills tabled to effect the process was also adjourned prematurely.

On Tuesday, the House threw out nine Bills over absence of proper certificates of financial implication.

Prior to tabling the Bills, President Museveni held meetings with the NRM Parliamentary caucus, whose majority numbers were expected to enable an uninterrupted passing of the laws. President Museveni has consistently supported the process that he says will save government Shs1trillion annually.

What others say

On Wednesday, Bugweri County lawmaker Abdu Katuntu tasked government to publicize the study that informed the rationalization process.

“…there are three reasons for rationalization, let us look at efficiency. Are the ministries more efficient than these agencies? I want to listen to how inefficient they are and how the ministries will be more efficient,” he said.

He added: “You can’t just cite a cabinet decision. So what if Cabinet decided. We now must justify that cabinet decision with details. We asked you for that study and we did not get it.”

But public service minister Muruli Mukasa, who is spearheading the process, insisted that a study was done, going on to present a document that left legislators unconvinced.

He thus conceded: “We need more time to gather all that evidence that is required so that the committee can have it.”

Kazo County MP Dan Kimosho said “Those tasked with rationalization and mergers have either not done a good and thorough job to know what is required or they are  deliberately misleading the country to lead us to a situation where we cannot sustain the policy reversal that we are undertaking,”

Parliament Speaker Anita Among, was, however, emphatic that the House is not opposed to the mergers, indicating they only want the executive to do a thorough job.

“If there are agencies that take away money, let them go, but those that bring in money…we should keep them… Just yesterday we passed a Bill, we cannot reject everything,” she said.