By Spy Uganda
Kampala: In the latest communique coming from the Uganda Cabinet this week, the Information Communications Technology (ICT) Minister, Judith Nabakooba, said the government will save Shs988 billion (US$269.5 million) when Uganda tourism agencies merge, as well as other departments, with others and will mainstream government ministries, departments, and agencies.
Agencies under the Tourism and wildlife sector have not been spared yet again as the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre Trust (UWECT), Uganda Tourist Board (UTB), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), and Uganda Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary shall be collapsed into specialized departments under the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities.
“The merger, first mooted in 2018, will see different units bundled together and others scrapped altogether,” said Nabakooba in her statement. In fact, merger plans first surfaced in 2001 when the Honorable Minister was still an undergraduate and when this correspondent was still a junior staffer at UTB, only for the government to rescind their decision after years of keeping staff on edge.
The process of reorganization will follow a roadmap to be implemented in three years “with a view of improving service delivery” added Nabakooba.
Besides saving taxpayers money, the Minister added that the reorganization will increase efficiency.
Minister of Public Service, Hon. Wilson Muruli Mukasa, had previously rescinded the decision to merge agencies claiming that “some of these agencies were established by Acts of Parliament. To scrap them one needs to go back to Parliament and have the laws repealed. Others have accumulated debts. You cannot just scrap them.”
The implementation roadmap includes formation of an inter-ministerial committee to handle the reorganization process as well as issuing of orders against creation of new agencies, authorities and commissions.
The government will also issue guidelines for transition and will hold workshops to prepare staff for the changes. Job reviews will also take place with the view of retaining and doing away with some employees.
“The structures will be revised, and the compensation of personnel to be off boarded will be undertaken,” said Nabakooba. “The salary structures for agencies will be harmonized and mainstreamed with public service in accordance with the approved pay targets.”
According to Ben Ntale, Director of Ape Treks and former Vice Chairman of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO), “We need to appreciate that we have not looked at the set roadmap for the transition yet; given what we know of our leaders, we could be better off leaving things the way they are.”
In 2018, UTB overhauled literally the entire staff, only for government to announce the merger of agencies shortly thereafter, and now the fate of the new staff remains in abeyance depending on who is to be believed.
Other sectors have not been spared including water and environment agencies, the accountability sector, trade and Investment, roads and transport, agriculture, and more.