Ambassadors go for months without salary payments

While salary payment takes first priority on the budget, a number of Ugandan ambassadors abroad have gone for months without salaries.

According to the list of salary arrears as of July 25, 2019, presented to the public accounts committee yesterday, nine ambassadors are demanding total pay of sh668.6m.

Some of the ambassadors have not been paid for about 36 months. They include Dr Richard Nduhura who is claiming sh154m for 18months, Dorothy Hyuha (sh205m for 22 months), Betty Akech Okullo (sh111m for 12 months) and Dr Chrispus Kiyonga (sh93.6m for 12 months).

Other envoys include Benjamin Mukabire (sh27m for 22 months), Stella Adakun (sh1m for 2 months), Martha Okumu Ringa (sh9.5m for 12 months), Idule Amako (sh50.3m for 36 months) and Betty Wanzala (sh15m for 12 months).

According to the documents submitted to the committee, Amb. Kiyonga’s funds reportedly bounced in June 2018 and taxes were paid. The amount reflected is less of tax.

The team, led by the permanent secretary for foreign affairs ministry, Amb. Patrick Mugoya, however, did not give details of the arrears but said the ministry was still struggling with domestic arrears amounting to sh67b for the year ended June 2018.

The auditors said the arrears had increased by sh3.4b from the outstanding amount of sh63.8b reported in 2017.

The amount comprises outstanding obligations to international organizations (sh64.3b), Organisation for Islamic Conference (sh366m), Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) outstanding bills (sh2.4b) and outstanding amounts in respect of carriage, haulage and transport hire expenses for mission staff on recall (sh97m).

Mugoya attributed the arrears to an inadequate budget allocation to the ministry of only sh9.1b out of the required sh26b, which is 35% of the annual contribution.

“The perpetual creation of arrears continues to pose a risk of impacting badly on the image of the ministry. It is important that the government gives us sufficient funds otherwise this will continue,” he said.

He, however, said the finance ministry had provided sh50b towards clearing the arrears though it is still not enough. During the meeting, the MPs asked the team to explain the ministry’s strategy to clear the arrears relating to the contribution to the international organizations.

“Do we really need to subscribe to some of these organizations? Otherwise, this problem has been on for so long. What strategy do you have to clear the arrears?” committee deputy chairperson Okin Ojara asked.

Mugoya explained that currently, the Government has put in place a committee chaired by the finance ministry to review the ministry’s membership relevance and whether they should remain as members

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Patrick Luwagga is the editorial director of cross-platform content for UGANDANZ. He works across the newsroom and with business partners to drive and develop ambitious editorial projects that include digital journalism, video, data research, polling, live events, and thought-leadership series that are supported by outside underwriting. As executive director, he is responsible for the creation of Political news section, prior to joining UGANDANZ, Patrick was the chief editor for the national weekly news magazine of Kasese Times. In that role, he covered several presidential elections, wrote and produced two television documentaries, and was a regular commentator on television and radio news programs. Patrick was born in Masaka and grew up in Kasese. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Makerere University where he was a Knight Foundation journalism fellow.