In a September 30 letter addressed to Health minister Jane Ruth Aceng and copied to Public Service minister Wilson Muruli Mukasa and others, the President directed that the salaries for scientists be moved to the “desired levels”.
He, however, advised the non-academic and non-technical staff, who for years had a longstanding outcry for salary enhancement, to wait until such a time when the country is able to increase their pay.
Referring to an agreed government position, the President directed Mr Mukasa to conclude the issue of pay to government scientists and university teachers.
The Presidents wants a professor to earn Shs15m per month; senior consultants (medical) Shs17m; university lecturer Shs12.2m; director-science Shs16m; doctor Shs5m and scientist Shs3.5m.
Other undisclosed categories and number of medical workers, government scientists and academicians will also benefit from the pay rise.
By last evening, it was however, not yet clear exactly when the beneficiaries will start receiving the new salaries.
Asked whether the money for salary enhancement was put in the 2019/2020 budget, Mr Jim Mugunga, the Ministry of Finance spokesperson, said: “I am not privy to the letter. However, when an executive directive is given, the relevant ministries work with us [Finance] to implement the directive, and that may take various forms of identifying the required funds to implement the presidential detective.”
Besides the Shs150b in the 2019/2020 budget earmarked for salary enhancement for lecturers and teachers, by last evening, it was not clear how much will be required to effect the new presidential directive.
In the past, Opposition leaders have complained that unplanned supplementary expenditures distort budget priorities as government cuts funds from planned activities to finance unforeseen or foreseen ‘emergencies”.
But in his directive, the President made it clear that the pay rise should not be mixed with the pay for the non-academic and non-technical personnel.
“The latter will be [handled] later, when we are able,” the President’s one-page letter reads in part.
Although Uganda Medical Association president, Dr Ekwaro Obuku, last evening called the President’s directive “an important gesture”, the decision to leave out the non-technical government workers, infuriated non-teaching staff and others who did not expect the President to fix the current salary disparities using what they called “a piecemeal approach.”
Mr Jackson Betihamah, the chairperson of the Public Universities non-teaching Staff Association, said: “I don’t believe scientists are the only people who can gear national development. We must use interdisciplinary approaches. People from the humanities will keep their hands folded and you will see if the scientists will work alone.”
However, Mr Obuku said: “It is an important gesture to fulfil his promise. We are seeing doctors running away. Some hospitals don’t have specialists. Senior doctors have been leaving mainstream public service to the private sector and education institutions. Moroto regional hospital returned salaries for about eight specialists. They have all left,” Dr Obuku said.
He added: “They would rather come and work in Kampala where they can make that money a day. Moroto District officials are sleeping in doctors’ housing. The doctors are sleeping far away from the health facilities. But you expect these doctors to wake up at night to attend to this expectant mother in emergency.”
Senior Presidential Press Secretary Don Wanyama last evening confirmed the authenticity of the presidential directives, and asked the addressed government officials to act without delay.
“I don’t know who gave you those letters. Anyway, it’s true the president gave those orders on Monday and instructed that the relevant government officials must implement his directives without delays,” Mr Wanyama said.
Last month, the President warned non-teaching staff to desist from demanding for salary increment whenever pay for teachers is increased, saying such protests disrupt government plans, hold educational institutions and the country hostage and also disadvantage the students.
“When I directed [that] professors at public universities earn up to Shs15m, the sweeper also asked for [salary] increment just because they sweep near the professor. Does sweeping near a professor make you a professor? This must stop,” he told the 4,000 primary teachers, who met for the second National Primary Teachers’ Day at St Lawrence College in Maya, Wakiso District, last month.
At the same function, the President promised better pay for public servants, singling out teachers, doctors, police officers and soldiers.
He also undertook to send a circular to teachers explaining the steps his government was taking to improve remunerations for public sector workers and fix salary disparities.
Explaining why he decided to prioritise scientists, the President said: “Paying the medical workers, the government scientists and the academicians removes the temptation of double loyalty – to the public service and to the private interest of the employee. We can, then, be able to ban completely the practice of government health workers running parallel clinics or drug shops. It was not reasonable to do that when the salaries were so low.”
What stakeholders say
Different view. Public Service Permanent Secretary, Catherine Bitarakwate.
“I have not seen the [President’s] letter. Where did you see it? We are just beginning budgeting. We have to be patient for the budgeting season to end.”
Uganda Medical Association president, Ekwaro Obuku.
“We are seeing doctors running away. Some hospitals don’t have specialists. Senior doctors have been leaving mainstream public service to private sector and education institutions. Moroto regional hospital returned salaries for about eight specialists. They have all left. [People] are starved because the pay is very low.
Dr Grace Lubaale, Forum for Public Universities Academic Staff chairperson
“The President has said these words since 2003. After 10 years in 2014, he said a professor would get Shs15million a month. It required Shs300 billion then. Finance said they will give us the money in instalment. On the way it got lost. We continue to remain in anticipation that Public Service and Finance implement the President’s directive.”
Mr Jackson Betihamah, chairperson of the Public Universities non-teaching Staff Association
“I don’t believe scientists are the only people who can gear national development… A professor needs that cleaner or laboratory attendant. They cannot work alone. Let’s stick to our traditional public service payment system and first have a job evaluation.”
Professor (science): Shs9.6m
Professor (arts): Shs9m
Associate professor: Shs8.5m
Senior lecturer: Shs7.5m
Assistant lecturer: Shs5.3m
Teaching assistant: Shs4.3m
New President Directive
Professor: Shs9.6m- Shs15m
Snr consultant (med): Shs7.3m- Shs17m
University lecturer: Shs7.3m- Shs12.2m
Director Science: Shs3.6m- Shs16m
Doctor: Shs3m- Shs5m