Following the government’s announcement of the rationalization of government agencies, commissions and authorities, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung organized a dialogue in cooperation with Makerere University Business School (MUBS) Economic Forum, titled “Rationalization of Government Agencies, Commissions and Authorities: Why, When, How and For Whose Benefit?” on December 4, 2018.
The dialogue brought together stakeholders including government institutions, employees of government agencies, civil society, private sector, policy makers, academia and media to debate and have a say in the rationalization process so that Ugandans get the best out of this reform. The goal of this public debate was to provide a platform for all stakeholders. This was viewed as the first ever public dialogue on Government’s bold decision to merge or scrap ambiguous agencies.
The dialogue comes against the background of Cabinet’s approval on September 10, 2018 of a plan to rationalize government agencies as a way of aligning their functions, structures and budgets; eliminating ambiguities, duplications, overlaps, and wasteful expenditure. However following the decision, no conversation has continued on this critical matter since then about its real objectives and expectations, knowing well that government is yet to finalize the plan.
The main objectives of the dialogue were:
To analyse this rationalization, and understand its rationale, objectives and expected outcomes.
To discuss how best this process should be carried out to improve the wellbeing of Ugandans as well as minimizing the socio-economic and political costs of the process
To recommend some short and medium term measures needed to mitigate risks to ensure that everybody gets the best out of the process.
Grow the Agricultural and Manufacturing Sector
Ms. Mareike Le Pelley the Resident Director, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung taking the participants into some of the key areas that government should look into as it rationalizes its agencies, commissions and authorities.
In her speech, Ms. Pelley enlightened that a large part of Uganda’s budget is the debt service which is affecting the country’s expenditure. To this, she urged government to put emphasis on agriculture and manufacturing. “The development of the agricultural and manufacturing sector is one of the things that government should look into for purposes of creating more employment and revenue,” she noted.
She also added investment in children skills and resources is also crucial for vocational training and also health as a priority area and also Research and Technology.
Recommendations from the Discussion
Towards the end of the workshop, the participants drew a number of conclusions. Among these include:
The rationalization should not stop at agencies. The mainstream Government including Ministries and their Departments as well as the Presidency, Parliament, and Local Governments also need to be reduced.
Agencies that are performing efficiently and effectively should not be rationalized by putting them under bodies (Ministries or other Agencies) that are more inefficient and/or ineffective.
There is need to undertake a thorough political economy analysis of the rationalization to identify and mitigate risks that might fail the process. Although it was reported that such a study was already undertaken, ad hoc implementation of plan does not exhibit that.
The Government should provide a clear direction and timelines for the rationalization process to reduce uncertainty and anxiety among employees in Agencies and to ensure that sensitive documents in the Agencies do not disappear.
There is need for a strong public relations and communication strategy.