Members of Parliament have cast doubts at government’s proposal to merge over 100 agencies saying the process may face legal challenges.
The Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Hon Judith Nabakooba on Tuesday, 23 February 2021 announced government’s plan to merge its ministries, commissions, authorities and agencies a plan that she says will see government save over shs900 billion.
Legislators were however, concerned that the decision was taken in a haste and that cabinet has not considered the fact that most agencies were created by acts of Parliament which would call for constitutional amendments.
“When you talk about merging these institutions; they are employing over 9000 people who might cause litigation against government,” Hon Joseph Ssewungu (DP, Kalungu West) said.
Kassanda North MP, Hon Patrick Oshabe Nsamba wondered whether Cabinet had conducted a scientific study to guide such a decision which he said has a bearing on government and employees.
“Is there any scientific study that has been done to know which agency is contributing how much money to the economy and which agency is making losses? Nsamba said adding that, “because the information we have is that it is a group of people from Internal Security Organization who sit somewhere and wish some agencies away and wish to retain some.”
The PWD representative for Eastern region, Hon Hellen Asamo said that merging agencies and institutions with constitutional mandates should only take place after constitutional amendments.
Asamo added that she was alarmed learning that two agencies with divergent mandates will be merged and warned that government should not compromise the quality of service for the sake of making savings.
“I learnt that Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) could be merged with the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC). UHRC looks at after effects of abuse of human rights whereas EOC looks at issues of gender and equity and proposes how government gives service delivery,” said Asamo adding that, “if we just go blindly and we don’t look at mandates, I have a fear that we might be going for destruction.”
The State Minister for Planning, Hon David Bahati said the mergers will increase efficiency in government in addition to saving resources that will be injected in the economy.
“The merging exercise is in the final stages and its aim is to increase efficiency within government. We are removing duplication and the resources we have been spending under different agencies will be used to achieve the same goal,” said Bahati.
Bahati assured MPs that discussions on merging government agencies has been on for the past two years.
“We set up a committee of cabinet to come up with the road map; some of the things the committee will look at will include the law, the contracts of staff and the salary structures,” Bahati said.