The government will not recruit any public servant or contract staff this financial year because it does not have the money to pay for them, a senior finance ministry official has warned.
Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Ramathan Ggoobi made the revelation in a budget execution circular he issued on Tuesday, July 11.
He advised that the government will only allow recruitment to replace existing staff in circumstances where serving employees become incapacitated.
“All accounting officers are reminded that there will be no recruitment of staff [public servants or contract staff] during the financial year [2023/2024] except on a replacement basis or where the position was already filled before the payroll special audit and the wage bill was available,” the circular said.
Mr Ggoobi, who is also finance ministry permanent secretary, also warned accounting officers against irregular enrolment of temporary workers onto the public sector payroll.
“This has been identified as one of the sources of wage shortfalls during budget execution and therefore, unacceptable,” he noted in the circular.
“You are implored to ensure that the wage budget is charged only for staff in-post and whose recruitment was authorised by the Ministry of Public Service, and bear a National Identification Number (NIN), Tax Identification Number (TIN), Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) supplier number and the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Systems (IPPS) number.”
In the same circular, Mr Goobi explained that this suspension will enable the government to finalise the ongoing comprehensive audit of the public sector payroll to ascertain actual numbers, and establish the real cause of the huge and disruptive wage budget shortfalls experienced last financial year.
At many times during the course of the year, thousands of civil servants and other public workers went without pay due to confusion surrounding the public sector payroll, a situation which led to disharmony and demotivation of staff. In other instances, accounting officers were accused of padding the payroll with ghost employees to enable embezzlement, causing losses estimated in billions of shillings.
For these and other reasons, the finance and public service ministries indicated in April that they had asked the AG to carry out a payroll audit across central and local government, involving actual head counts of employees.
The government directive suspending new staff recruitments comes after the Office of the Prime Minister released a local government performance report for last year where district chairpersons and Chief Administrative Officers decried understaffing as being a major drawback to service delivery.
Yesterday, Ms Catherine Bitarakwate, permanent secretary Ministry of Public Service, declined to comment on the directive.
“The reasons for the suspension of public servants’ recruitment are very clear in the Ministry of Finance statement, what do you want me to add?” she asked.
However, in a telephone interview, Wakiso district chairperson, Mr Matia Lwanga Bwanika said: “The suspension for the recruitment was expected because even in the last financial year, the government was struggling to pay salaries to the civil servants.”
“Service delivery is no longer a priority to the NRM government. At the local government level, we are understaffed but the government expects us to deliver as required, we shall keep on lamenting [about] poor services in government entities until those in power prioritise service delivery,” he said yesterday.
The general moratorium on staff recruitment across government comes at a time when the country’s tax authority, which is supervised by the finance ministry, is struggling to meet revenue collection targets as businesses deal with the negative after-effects of the post-Covid 19 global economic lockdowns and contraction.
As a result, the government continues to acknowledge an inability to fund a number of its operations and a failure to deliver on some promises and constitutional obligations.
On the other hand, suspending new recruitments perpetuates the current dilemma where at least 66 ministries, departments and agencies reviewed by the Auditor General were named in a report covering 2022 financial year as muddling along with up to 8,353 job vacancies remaining unfilled.
The AG warned that leaving such huge staffing gaps open stifles operations and constrains the effective delivery of public services as would otherwise be expected under the respective mandates of departments and agencies.
Other budget execution guidelines
- Names of all civil servants not verified during the payroll audit by the office of the Auditor General should be deleted from the payment system not later than July 30, 2023. • All contracts for works, goods and services should be quoted in Ugandan shillings
- All government advertising must be through the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation and New Vision newspaper.
- All contracts, including those that follow international competitive bidding procedures, shall be quoted in Ugandan shillings.
Source: Daily Monitor