Parliament has directed the ministry of public service not to implement any mergers of government agencies until the report of the Ad-hoc committee of parliament is debated.
Deputy Speaker Anita Among informed the House on August 31, that Parliament will form an Ad-hoc committee to scrutinize the performance of each agency up for merging.
“We want as Parliament to be involved in the process of merging the agencies and we shall have an Ad-hoc committee to scrutinize the performance of each agency up for merging,” said Among.
This follows a statement by the Minister of Public Service, Wilson Muruli Mukasa on the rationalization of government agencies to ensure efficient and effective service delivery.
He told Parliament that the high growth rate of Government Agencies in Uganda has continued to create jurisdictional ambiguities.
He added that it drains the National Treasury at the expense of effective service delivery; overstretch the capacity of the Government to sustain Agencies; cause salary disparities between Agency employees and traditional civil servants and leads to wastage of resource.
The Minister informed the Members that the merger of Government Agencies would be implemented in two phases, because of achieving full implementation of Cabinet recommendations on the rationalization of government agencies and Public Expenditure.
Muruli observed that Phase I will focus on a comprehensive review of eighteen government Ministries and seventy-seven (77) Agencies, which are affected by the merger, mainstreaming and transfer of functions. He added that this process was ongoing.
For Phase II, Muruli said that it will focus on the remaining six government Offices and Ministries and eighty Agencies that were recommended for retention but require institution review and restructure, to enable them adequately respond to the current service delivery demands.
Cabinet on February 22, 2021, decided to merge, mainstream and rationalize Government Agencies, Commissions, Authorities and Public Expenditure; to facilitate efficient and effective service delivery.
The Cabinet equally approved an implementation roadmap for the implementation process, to be spread over a period of two years – (i.e. FY 2021122 – 2022123). As of today, the implementation process has covered one Month and ten Days.
The MPs across the divide, despite the Ministers explanations, put up a spirited fight against the proposed rationalization of the government agencies.
MP Kasilo County, Elijah Okupa tasked the Minister of Public to inform the House how much government would save from the mergers. He equally demanded that the government apologizes to Parliament and the country for establishing the institutions in the first place without proper planning!
“When are we also merging the ministries because they are so many and others are redundant,” Okupa wondered.
Responding to some of the concerns raised by Members, the Government Chief Whip, Thomas Tayebwa observed that no merger of Government Agencies had been approved.
He said that the Cabinet had set up a sub-committee that would study and present a report. He emphasized that once the report is ready, it would be discussed and the final report will be presented to this Parliament
“No decision will be taken by the Executive without Parliament’s involvement, on the merger of Agencies whose instruments were by an act of Parliament,” said Tayebwa.
The Deputy Speaker reminded the Minister for Public Service to ensure that all staff affected by these mergers are paid including their benefits.
“I want to guide the minister of public service to work closely with the Attorney general to deal with the legal issues around the merger of agencies and to ensure that all affected staff are paid. We shall form an Ad-hoc committee to look into the issues and report in one month,” said Among.