KAMPALA — As the Ugandan government starts to feel the weight of the sanctions imposed by the European Union parliament recently, cabinet on Monday February 22 in a high profile meeting consented to the merger of various related ministries in a bid to cut expenditure on salaries.
The cabinet verdict was announced by the Minister for information, Hon. Judith Nabakooba who spoke to the media on Tuesday afternoon.
“Government is considering uniting cabinet ministries which do almost the same work,” Nabakooba said.
“This will at least help us cut our expenditure on salaries, wages and generally the funds will be directed to other priorities,” she added.
The merger of ministries comes at a time when the government of Uganda struggles to clean its image largely dirtened during the election season where unprecedented levels of brutality were registered.
Over 65 people alone were killed during the deadly November clashes between armed forces and supporters of the National Unity Platform party president Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert aka Bobi Wine.
The arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings, abductions and repression on the opposition and media have invited sanctions from foreign funders of the Ugandan government.
The United Kingdom, and EU have already announced aid cutting to the Ugandan regime.
Similarly, the suspension of the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) was perceived by donors as a direct blow at the quest for democracy.
These aid cuts are believed to be the reason why Government is considering cutting expenditure on salaries of its bulky civil service.
The auditor-general, John Muwanga warned in a report released recently that public debt had seriously increased and that it had become a top threat to many of the country’s assets.
The report — without naming China — warned that conditions placed on major loans were a threat to Uganda’s sovereign assets.
As of the end of June 2020, Uganda’s public debt was UGX. 56.5 trillion ($15.33 billion), the Bank of Uganda (BoU) said in a report.
About two thirds of the debt is held by external creditors including China and World Bank, and the public debt is now 40.8% of GDP.
The report attributed the 20.5% rise in debt from June 2019 to new borrowing for “countering the economic distress brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Uganda’s opposition and the IMF have in recent years expressed unease about the ballooning public debt and potential repayment problems.
Auditor General’s report said that in some loans, Uganda had agreed to waive sovereignty over properties if it defaults on the debt — a possibility that officials including Finance Minister Matia Kasaija and President Museveni both rejected.