Allowances for Ugandan Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) in top cities around the world are to be harmonized, with the figure shooting FSO budgetary expenses in 2016 to over six billion shillings, if a proposal made to Parliament is adopted.
According to a communication to the Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige dated May 3, 2016, the allowance bill for FSOs in ‘Group A’ cities which include London, Washington, Brussels, Geneva, Paris, Copenhagen, Ottawa, Berlin, Moscow, Canberra, Kinshasa, New York, Rome, Abuja, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, will now be harmonized with allowances for ‘Group B’ and rise to Shs6,491,013, 243 a year.
The proposal from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, copied to the Minister Sam Kutesa and dubbed ‘Ministry of Foreign Affairs Report on Uganda’s Properties Abroad and Foreign Service Welfare’, is signed by Ms Betty Mutesa on behalf of the MOFA Permanent Secretary Ambassador James Mugume, in response to parliamentary requirements on accountability documented in the Hansard on April 21 this year.
The 11-page document, produced by an inter-ministerial committee involving officials from the ministries of Justice and Constitutional Affairs; Works and Transport; Finance and Economic Planning; Foreign Affairs and Lands, Housing and Urban Development, also includes the state of management of Uganda’s properties abroad that include 14 Chanceries, 12 official residences, three commercial buildings and nine plots of land.
Also, as part of the improvement of the welfare of FSOs, the MOFA called for an ‘Education Allowance Review’, where officers in English and non-English-speaking countries will get a rise of US$2000, to cater for four biological or legally adopted children, all below 18 years of age. ‘In subsequent years a provision for an additional 25 per cent Foreign Service Allowance to high cost missions based on the Consumer Price Index of the UN,’ the proposal indicates in part.
Previously, the FSOs serving in English-speaking countries received US$2000, while those serving in non-English-speaking countries received US$2500, respectively, bringing the proposed education allowance bill to Shs 2.64 billion a year.
‘It is believed that if the recommendations of this inter-ministerial committee on Foreign Service allowances are implemented the welfare of FSOs will be immensely improved,’ the document adds.
Currently Uganda has 33 missions abroad, across the four continents.