Ministers Clash With Youths Over Merger Of Special Interest Groups

Ministers Clash With Youths Over Merger Of Special Interest Groups

By Spy Uganda

Kampala: The Minister of State for Finance (General Duties), Henry Musasizi, has disagreed with prayers in a petition by National Youth Council (NYC) challenging the merger of secretariats of all special interest groups, arguing that the action will not financially affect the activities of the interest groups.

“Honestly speaking, there are agencies that were simply milking money from the Consolidated Fund which we looked at as the reason for rationalization, but there were those which were income generating we said should stay,” said Musasizi.

Musasizi said this while appearing before the House Committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development chaired by Kyegegwa District Woman MP, Hon. Flavia Kabahenda on Tuesday, 17 October 2023.

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He was responding to a petition presented by the youth to Parliament in July 2023, arguing that the merger will worsen the already skyrocketing youth unemployment rate.

The NYC secretariat was merged with the National Women’s Council, National Children Authority, National Council for Persons with Disabilities and National Council for Older Persons into one secretariat.

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“By the merger of these institutions, the fight against unemployment may be rendered nugatory, yet government has committed efforts and finances to the fight,” read the petition, presented by Quinto Ojok from the NYC.

NYC proposes that if government is to minimize costs, it would rather consider reducing the number of Members of Parliament representing youths and the cabinet ministers representing special interest groups.

“The cabinet decision would work best by reconsidering the number of MPs representing these special interest groups, limiting it to only national representation to enable all monies spent on them as remuneration and allowances to run other activities affecting the groups,” read the petition.

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Minister Musasizi said that the move to merge all secretariats was aimed at reducing administrative costs for efficiency without necessitating budgetary reduction. He thus assured the committee that funding for each group will not reduce as a result of merging.

“The merging of the secretariats will not reduce the budget, no one will lose money, we are still giving the NYC Shs4 billion in the 2023/2024 financial year and in the next year that we have started budgeting for,” he said.

Hon. Kabahenda asked if government undertook assessment of social and economic impact of rationalizing all the secretariats.

“How do you plan to compensate for unemployment that this may cause? Are you not marginalizing the already marginalized groups?” she asked, adding, “You may say you are saving money, but how much will government pay for as severance fees for those laid off? Was there any business analysis or a study on impact assessment?”

Hon. Rosemary Nyakikongoro (NRM, Sheema District Woman Representative) observed that the decision to reduce the size of secretariats yet maintaining the same budget for programmes is likely to create a deficit on supervision.

“Who will monitor implementation of these activities, for example for the Equal Opportunities Commission, you have reduced staff from six to one, won’t we have issues of failure to absorb the budget in future and thus use it as a basis to reduce it saying we gave you money and you failed to utilize it?” she asked.

The minister said that government estimates to save administrative costs amounting to Shs300 billion from rationalization of all secretariats.

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