A section of MPs have issued a thirty day ultimatum to Government to merge, scrap and downsize public Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to curtail duplication and stop wastage of tax payers’ money.
The MPS told journalists during a press briefing at Parliament that failure by the Executive to come up with a concrete plan to curb the expenditure will leave them with no option, other than table a Private Member’s Bill to have all the 119 agencies reviewed.
The proviso by the MPs follows a November 17, 2017 report by the Internal Security Organization (ISO) conducted between July and November 2017 that called for merging of public agencies after discovering a series of wasteful expenditures within the public sector.
Solomon Silwanyi, Bukooli Central MP, pointed specific accusing finger at the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and wondered why the Authority’s Executive Director Allen Kagina hasn’t vacated the institution following the unveiling of the report, which implicated the agency in a raft of miscreant acts.
“By now Kagina should be packing her luggage, because UNRA is the most extravagant agency. They use tax payer’s money for outings, dance halls, taking girlfriends on trips. In fact UNRA is the worst spender on entertainment according to last year’s budget,” Silwanyi said. The legislator also called for UNRA to be restructured and taken back under the Ministry of Works and Transport.
Silwanyi, who doubles as Vice Chairperson NRM Parliamentary Caucus, further demanded for the review of all the 119 agencies, saying not much has been achieved, with many of the agencies instead increasing government expenditure.
David Abala, the Ngora County MP, questioned why with all the evidence of poor performance and corruption marring the Government agencies, recommendations to have their existence reviewed has remained just on paper, without any implementation.
He termed as ‘absurd’ the expenditure of billions of funds in terms of wages, amidst the tough economic challenges the country is facing.
Julie Mukoda, the Mayuge district Woman MP also weighed in the matter, wondering how the Executive would sit with their hands folded as the agencies spent Shs151 billion on fuel consumption, despite the poor services the Agencies are rendering to citizens.
Herbert Kinobere, the Kibuku County MP, blamed the wastage on lack of coordination amongst mother Ministries that are meant to supervise these agencies.
Kinobero pointed out that it is within public knowledge that the agencies have a bigger budget compared to their mother Ministries and called on the Executive to merge the agencies, if they wish to have service delivery trickle down to the masses at the grassroots.
Kasozi Mayombo, the Bukoto Mid-West MP, noted that the move by MPs shouldn’t be interpreted as witch-hunt of the Authorities but as means to improve service delivery.
The MPs argued that for the case of a few agencies performing well like Uganda Heart Institute and Uganda Cancer Institute will have their autonomy guarded, and new guidelines on how to conduct their business will be issued.
The debate on the ‘bloated’ government gained public attention following a July 17, 2017 letter authored by President Yoweri Museveni in which he called for an investigation to be carried to forge ways in which administrative units in the country would be downsized.
The President’s orders to scale down on government authorities, commissions and para-statals were given to Matia Kasaija, Minister Of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Muruli Mukasa, the Minister of Public Service, Esther Mbayo, the Minister for the Presidency, John Mitala, the Secretary to Cabinet and Chairman National Planning Authority.
“I want efficiency with no further delays. You have up to December 20th 2017 to propose a plan to Cabinet,” The President wrote in his stern letter, titled ‘Mushrooming Agencies or Authorities’.
Subsequently, the ISO produced a report indicating that a number of Government agencies were spending billions of shillings on fuel, foreign travel, consultancies and salaries, compared to their counterparts in Ministries.
As if that isn’t enough, the Security report also indicated that the public Agencies spend a lot of their monies on workshop and advertisements.
The ISO Director Political Affairs Lt. Col Joseph Aliganyira, revealed that their investigation revealed that some of the said Agencies and Ministries are fond of inflating their budgets to create avenues for siphoning public funds.