The rationalization of the MDAs is one of the main financial policy measures of the government next financial year, which are aimed at trimming public expenditure and improve efficiency in service delivery.
Ugandan civil society are demanding for a roadmap towards the rationalization of government agencies, to help the government avoid making mistakes in the process that concerns trillions of shillings worth of institutions.
Initially, it was reported that up to 170 organisations would either be merged, returned to mother-ministries or abolished, but in February this year, the Ministry of Public Service says 121 of them would be affected in the three-year process.
The minister for Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Matia Kasaija says the process has already started with some agencies affected, giving the example of the Rural Electrification Agency, REA.
REA ran into problems over the last two years with top management being accused of abuse of office, which resulted into sacking of the then executive director.
It also happened at the same time that REA’s main project, the Electricity Connection Policy was being suspended after government failed to fund it due to Covid 19-induced financial scarcity.
These combined to compel the government to absorb the agency into the mother ministry, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development when funding for the free electricity connection project was secured again.
Kasaija said the rationalization program will continue through next year, as part of efforts towards the improvement of the public sector effectiveness, which will also feature salary enhancement for some public servants.
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The Civil Society Budgets Advocacy Group, CSBAG says that even if it welcomes the process which they have been demanding for, but that the procedure is not well-laid out.
CSBAG Chief Executive Julius Mukunda says however that with or without rationalization, the Prime Minister and government as a whole can bring management discipline among government agencies, some of which have openly been in conflict with each other.
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This, according to him, keeps the workers in suspense about their future, which should be avoided by the ministry of finance and the office of the prime minister.
However, Mukunda says the process is long overdue, giving the example of the several government organisations which are each planning to construct industrial parks, a clear sign of duplication of roles.
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In February, the cabinet issued what they called ‘guidance on the management of transition arrangements for Boards and Staff whose contracts expire in due course of rationalization, so that the process is handled effectively.
The guidelines included development of a change Management and Implementation Strategy, stakeholder engagement workshops to prepare staff for the new changes, and the review of the legal framework of the affected Agencies.
Others included a review of the institutional and structural framework including terms and conditions of service of employees, and the financial implications.
The minister for Public Service, Wilson Muruli Mukasa said any implementation of the process should be strictly monitored, just like government agencies have to be strictly supervised.
He adds that this restructuring of public service and agency realignment should go with salary enhancements.
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The NRM Electoral Commission Chairman Tanga Odoi on his part says it is indiscipline by government agencies to compete for resources, and this sometimes leads to wastage.
He advises the Prime Minister to encourage collaboration and regular meetings between the MDAs to develop team spirit.
This he says, will ensure the MDAs do not duplicate roles and therefore will use the limited resources for optimum returns.