Members of Parliament have queried governments’ ongoing move to merge and rationalize public institutions and agencies, calling it a rushed and poorly planned process.
The legislators raised concern regarding government’s exploration of the legal and financial ramifications involved in the process while responding to a Ministerial report.
The Minister of Public Service, Hon. Muruli Mukasa presented a progress report on the rationalization of government agencies and public expenditure on Tuesday, 31 August, 2021.
Mukasa said in February 2021, Cabinet decided to merge mainstream and rationalize government agencies, commissions, authorities and public expenditure to facilitate efficient public expenditure.
“The main objective is to eliminate structural and functional duplications, overlaps and wasteful expenditure,” he added.
Mukasa stated that government chose to merge and transfer the functions of 77 agencies. He said that the government has so far merged 69 agencies.
“The government seeks to mitigate; jurisdictional ambiguities, drain on the national treasury at the expense of service delivery, overstretching of the capacity of government to sustain agencies and, salary disparities between agency employees and traditional civil servants leading to wastage of resources,” he said.
The Minister told Parliament a situational analysis established that some agencies lacked a clear justification, others had their mandates overtaken by events whereas some were pseudo government projects operating as government agencies.
“It is against this background that the President raised concern with the mushrooming government agencies prompting a review into the matter to rationalize public institutions to ensure efficiency of the government,” Muruli added.
The Minister said that the government plans to pay gratuities to those staff that may not be absorbed in the mainstream public service.
Hon. Godfrey Atkins Katusabe (FDC, Bukonjo County West) said that the government has a problem of introducing policies that are not anchored on studies and research.
“A country that cares for its human resource should have paid particular attention to constituting a multi-disciplinary team of scholars both from humanities and sciences instead of doing things haphazardly,” he said.
Katusabe asked Parliament not to pass the motion because the move is not extensively studied by the government further terming it as a ‘catastrophic move’.
Bugweri County MP, Hon Abdu Katuntu said that government has been coming to Parliament for the last 15 years creating these institutions and government justifying their existence.
“The executive has been coming with bills consulting the relevant committees to create these agencies. Government is moving away from its policies without consulting the people it asked to create these institutions” he added.
Katuntu tasked the government to revisit the laws that created the agencies with the Parliament because the cabinet has no authority to single-handedly repeal the laws.
He also asked the government to provide a cost implication of the move to merge the government agencies.
Hon. Geoffrey Kayemba (NUP. Bukomansimbi South) said the decision shows the government’s weakness of not carefully analysing the major decisions it takes resulting in them backtracking and costing the state.
“Where is the money going to come from that is going to compensate all the staff that have to be laid off? This means that the taxpayer is going to suffer because of the government’s mistakes,” Kayemba added.
Kasilo County MP, Hon. Elijah Okupa sought to know how much the government would save merging the agencies.
He faulted the government for forming government agencies without a clear justification and mandates.
“We would have expected the government to consult with the key stakeholders, in this case, Parliament before coming to the decision to merge government agencies,” Okupa added.
Kwania County MP, Hon Tonny Ayoo said the move by the government is will create challenge since some of the agencies have several partnerships with foreign agencies and entities which are at risk.
“We do not want to have a scenario where we break ties and create diplomatic issues; this should a carefully executed process,” he noted.
Muruli Mukasa said that the exercise will not leave out any stakeholder.
“I want to underscore that no stakeholder in this exercise will be ignored or under looked, Parliament will be involved,” he added.
The Deputy Speaker, Anita Among said that Parliament will institute an Ad-Hoc committee to do a cost-benefit analysis of each of the agencies before their merger.
She asked the Attorney General to work with the Minister to ensure that all the legal implications are sufficiently considered especially with the agencies created by Acts of Parliament.
Among asked the Minister to stay the merger and rationalization of government agencies pending Parliament’s decision.
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