It would have been a different story in just a matter of weeks. But thousands of civil servants in tens of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) can now breathe a sigh of relief since they will retain their job for another year after a rationalization plan was halted.
For about six years now, the Gen Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni government has talked of the rationalization of agencies and public expenditure exercise or RAPEX in which several commissions, agencies, parastatals would be affected.
In fact, the exercise began in 2017 when Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi and Ruhakana Rugunda were still Vice President and Prime Minister, respectively. It is these two principals that the general from Rwakitura had instructed to draw a plan for the rationalization of government MDAs with the view of ensuring that government stops duplicating its functions and saves hundreds of billions of money.
Although a plan was developed, government foresaw legal battles it would not win if the exercise was implemented without amendments to laws such as those made by Parliament creating certain entities.
There were also fears that some MDAs had huge loans that they needed to clear before being scrapped or merged so as to avoid burdening government with have to go to court to defend itself against suits over nonpayment.
At least three revisions have been made to the plan for the rationalization of government entities. The latest one is what the Museveni administration agreed on a few weeks ago, The Pearl Times has learnt.
In a letter dated May 23 which Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwire, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Service, wrote to all permanent secretaries, she confirmed the extension and explained why it had been inevitable.
Quoting cabinet minutes in which Gen Museveni and his ministers had given their blessing to the need for the merger, mainstreaming and scrapping of several MDAs, PS Bitarakwate explained that “approved structures cannot be implemented unless the review of the [enabling] legal framework has been concluded,” adding that the process meant to review the legal framework was already underway.
So, when will the rationalization take place, according to the new deadline? Bitarakwate has confirmed that while the exercise was supposed to start in July 2023, the new deadline will now be July 2023.
What this means is that there will be strict guidelines on renewal of contracts and recruitment, with only critical areas given the rare chance of hiring new staff for the short term period, not going beyond the end of the next financial year.
Still, such contract renewals and new appointments will have to be approved by the Ministry of Public Service following advice from Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka.
Nearly 160 entities were listed for review. Only 80 would survive being scrapped, a little over 30 were to be returned to the Ministries under which they fall where they would become departments. (See list of government agencies which will be scrapped and those which will remain HERE).
You can also see the amount of money Museveni’s government hopes to save by scrapping duplicated agencies, and the juicy packages that Allen Kagina’s UNRA will be paid after government has scrapped the roads agency Here, There, and Over There.
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