Saturday 16 December 2017

MPs ask gov’t to address salary disparities of civil servants

MPs ask gov’t to address salary disparities of civil servants
(New Vision 08/04/17)

It is a very big mistake for government to discriminate civil servants by paying some highly and others are given peanut.

Members of Parliament have urged government to undertake urgent measures to address salary disparities among civil servants which continue to ignite strikes.

Raising it as a matter of national concern that needs urgent measures, the Kiboga East MP Dr. Keefa Kiwanuka Wednesday told the house that the ultimatum given by judges and magistrates of up to August 24, 2017 to have their salaries would cause a constitutional crisis if it is not handled well.

Kiwanuka made reference to Malawi where judges and magistrates went on strike and the prisons got overwhelmed with prisoners because judicial activities had come to a standstill.

“The looming strike by the judicial officers, which is the third arm of government needs urgent attention. It would be unimaginable for one arm of the state not to be working,” Kiwanuka argued.

Kiwanuka, who is a former lecturer a Uganda Management Institute, cited other recent salary related strikes from lecturers, non-teaching staff of universities, and prosecutors as indicators that government needs to urgently address salary disparities and pay all civil servants decent salaries.

“The local government leaders have also put government on notice that they intend to go on strike if their request for salary increment is not addressed. The other day they embarrassed a minister at Namboole. The EC staff, teachers, lecturers and recently prosecutors had their salaries increased. You cannot increase salaries for some and leave out others,” he reasoned.

Kiwanuka, who holds a PHD in business administration from Kingston University of UK, proposed that the executive prepares a statement and explains to parliament how it intends to solve the problem once and for all.

The vocal legislator wondered why despite several resolutions from parliament and other stakeholders for government to constitute a salary review commission has never been set up.

Responding to Kiwanuka’s presentation, the minister for public service Muluuli Mukasa said, “The member from Kiboga has raised a very serious matter and government is treating it seriously. The ministry of public service and the ministry of finance are working out something to address the disparities.”

The minister explained that as soon as the consultations between the two ministries are concluded within a month, a report would be presented to cabinet for immediate action.

On the looming strike by magistrates and judges, Muluuli revealed that the responsible ministry and agencies are engaging the aggrieved to agree on a way forward and stop the strike.

Regarding the proposal for a salary review commission, the minister explained that its implementation necessitated passing some constitutional amendments.

Commenting on the matter, Koboko North MP Elly Asiku (NRM) said, “I have been a civil servant and I have seen a lot of unfairness in our system. There have been requests for long to harmonize the salaries but government has continued to turn a deaf ear. We need to address the disparities because they are outrageous, unscientific and distort the public service structure.”

Kasambya County MP Mbwatekamwa Gaffa said, “It is a very big mistake for government to discriminate civil servants by paying some highly and others are given peanuts. Government should set up a salary review commission as Kenya did and harmonize the salaries otherwise we shall have more strikes. There are even those like soldiers, police officers and prisons officers who are poorly paid but cannot demand pay rise.”

Mbale municipality MP Jack Wamai Wamanga said, “It is not that we don’t have money to pay civil servants well. Government just lacks the will. If they can bail fake companies with billions of taxpayers’ money, why can’t they pay civil servants well! The sh400b they gave to Sudhir Ruparelia should have been used to increase salaries for civil servants because the cost of living is too high.”

Uganda ambassador to London Julius Peter Moto said sometime back during a retreat for ambassadors at Munyonyo that until government pays all civil servants good salaries which can enable them to have a decent living, corruption would continue thriving in the country.

By Moses Mulondo, John Odyek

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