By Prisca Wanyenya
Government has backtracked on its earlier promise to increase the salary of scientists, saying there is a postponement of salary enhancements across the board until the economy recovers from the impact prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic and resources are available. It should be recalled that in August 2021, the government announced that the cabinet had passed a resolution to increase salaries of scientists, including science teachers, with the lowest expected to receive Shs4M monthly.
STEM teachers hold Bachelor of Science with Education; Bachelor of Science and PGDE (Postgraduate Diploma in Education); Bachelor of Education Secondary (Science) and the corresponding Diplomas.
According to the Ministry of Public Service, as of 1st July 2021, there were 134,928 primary education employees and 30,822 secondary education employees in Uganda, and of these, secondary science teachers are less than 9,000.
It should further be recalled that the Government also made a commitment to enhance salaries of public servants by 50% starting FY2015/16 over the next three financial years. However, to date, only 30% increment to some categories like Permanent Secretaries, health workers and scientists has been implemented.
The Presidential Advisory Committee on the Budget that studied the proposal for salary enhancement recommended to the Government to develop a road map for the implementation of this commitment.
The details of the latest decision are contained in the National Budget Framework Paper FY 2022/23- FY2026/27 that was tabled by Henry Musasizi, State Minister for Finance General Duties.
According to Government, enhancement of salaries, wages and gratuity for scientists, Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) and integration of the Local Defence Units (LDUs) into the UPDF requires Shs1.9Trn and this will raise the country’s total wage bill from Shs. 5.533Trn to Shs7.433Trn in the next financial year.
Now, the Ministry of Finance has halted all salary increments in order to develop proposals on how the salary enhancements will be implemented. “Against this background, Government is developing a proposal for enhancing all cadres in Government beginning with health workers and other scientists,” reads in part the National Budget Framework Paper.
Meanwhile, in the policy proposals for FY2022/23 national budget, the Government is seeking to clean its image as a bad business partner and start paying its suppliers within ten days after invoice is issued in order to ensure prudent and effective implementation of the budget as well as speedy economic recovery.
The Ministry made 12 recommendations that the Government can undertake in the coming budget among which includes timely payment of government suppliers and the clearance of domestic arrears for which funds have been provided in the budget for the fiscal year 2022/23.
“To avoid stifling private sector investment and associated consequences such as the increase in rates of non-performing loans, which in turn increases the cost of borrowing and leads to distress, loss of employment and production. Going forward, all government institutions will be required to pay suppliers within 10 days from the date of invoice,” reads in part the executive summary of the 2022/2023 National Budget Framework Paper.
The Ministry also revealed that in the coming budget, Shs400Bn has provided for outstanding arrears.
In November, Secretary to Treasury, Ramathan Ggoobi revealed that the verified domestic arrears pending clearance by Government are worth Shs1.6Trn not Shs4Trn as earlier reported and Shs555Bn was going to be set aside in the 2022/2023 national budget for payment of domestic arrears.
Government is also proposing to enforce strict adherence to Performance Contracts by Accounting Officers in order to ensure accountability with results, effective next fiscal year.
Musasizi said: “My ministry will strictly be based on performance reports, achievements of NDPIII results for which resources have been provided for and audit reports for reappointment of accounting officers across government.”
The Minister also threatened to suspend and arrest all accounting officers whose projects are off track so as to ensure financial discipline to the management of public resources.
Musasizi added: “Going forward, only projects with feasibility studies and have been evaluated through the PIMS Framework will be admitted to the Public Investment Plan (PIP). Also, starting next fiscal year the Government will provide funds for a feasibility study equivalent to US$ one (1) million.”
In the 2022/23 budget, the total resource envelope is projected at Shs40.408Trn and on how the money will be raised, Domestic Revenues Shs22.425Trn, Budget Support Shs1.291Trn, Domestic Financing Shs2.836Trn, Project Support (External Financing) Shs5.575Trn.
More revenue will be raised through Domestic Refinancing (Roll-over) Shs7.651Trn while
Local Revenue for Local Governments Shs212.4Bn.