The president’s younger brother, Gen Salim Saleh, has been linked to an Internal Security Organisation-funded investigation report released last week which put the spotlight on wasteful expenditure in government ministries and agencies.
In the coming weeks, Bukooli Central MP Solomony Silwany, a member of the investigating team, will table a private member’s bill, urging the merger of various government agencies and authorities to cut down public expenditure.
Last Friday, Silwany, the NRM parliamentary caucus vice chairman, addressed a press conference and gave his government a 30-day ultimatum to table a bill for the scrapping of agencies listed in the November 25 Saleh report to President Museveni as wasteful.
The report titled; Rationalisation of commissions, agencies and authorities in Uganda for better efficiency is based on an investigation by 12 people, referred to as “cadres” in the report.
The 12 cadres were led by Salim Saleh; former deputy chief of defence forces Gen Charles Angina and former state minister for Economic Monitoring Henry Banyenzaki.
Their investigation followed a July 12 letter Museveni wrote to leaders in government, demanding information on the cost of the said agencies.
While the report has been widely publicised as the work of ISO, well-placed sources told The Observer that none of the investigating cadres works officially for ISO. But still, their findings were released by Lt Col Joseph Aliganyira, director for political affairs at the security organ, on December 5.
MPs Silwany and Joseph Muyomba Kasozi (Bukoto Mid-West), plus three unnamed Makerere University dons, among them, Ramathan Ngobi, were also involved.
The dons worked alongside a technocrat in investment affairs and an independent researcher. ISO funded the investigation.
“ISO was used because it [the investigation] needed a formal government structure to own it,” a source said.
Banyenzaki said the investigation has been on for nearly two years but gained momentum after Museveni’s July 12 letter.
“It is continuation of the work I was doing as [state] minister for Economic Monitoring…we started on it with Gen Saleh when we were still operating from our command post at Serene [Suites Mutundwe],” Banyenzaki said.
The cadres analysed the 2016/17 national budget, performance and made field trips. It is understood that several agencies were uncooperative, yet unknown to them they were being monitored from within.
“We contacted the listening posts in the agencies who got us all the information that we needed. We then scrutinised the relevant documents, work plans, budgets and their proposed budget requests for next financial year before moving out to all districts for further investigations,” a team member told The Observer.
After receiving the report, Museveni invited some members of the team, notably Banyenzaki and Silwany, to make a presentation to cabinet on December 4 at State House Entebbe. Both Silwany and Kasozi declined to be interviewed for this article.
The report classified the agencies into “money-consuming” and “money-generating parastatals.”
The bulk of waste is on foreign travel, workshops, welfare and entertainment and consultancy services. Most funds (Shs 392.7bn) are spent on consultancy services.
“Public servants are using this channel as a coping strategy to top up [their] incomes, the work they are supposed to do within the ministries is channeled to consultancies, they also use the consultancies as a sanctuary to conceal their poor requisite skills for the work they were employed to perform,” the report noted.
By the end of this financial year, 11 ministries, namely; Lands, Water and Environment, Finance, Agriculture, Energy, Education, Defence, Works, Local Government, Office of the Prime Minister and Health will have spent Shs 290.7bn yet 19 agencies doing similar work will spend Shs 54.9bn on consultants.
Workshops and seminars will consume Shs 104bn, which, according to the report, is enough to run the ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives whose Shs 85bn budget is always not fully funded. Travel accounts for Shs 352.7 billion while Shs 190.6bn was budgeted to cater for welfare and entertainment.
Of Uganda’s Shs 29 trillion budget, more than Shs 3.36 trillion is spent on salaries. Central government takes Shs 1.7 trillion and local governments Shs 1.6 trillion.
The agencies spend 10 percent more on salaries compared to ministries. In ministries, general staff earn much lower than contractual staff.
Ordinary staff at Finance consume Shs 4.3bn while those on contract take Shs 18.7bn. At ministry of Health, ordinary employees share Shs 5.8bn and contract workers take Shs 16.7bn. Jim Mugunga, the Finance ministry spokesman, said the mismatch is due to the level of expertise.