By Umaru Kashaka May 29, 2014 photo by Enock Kakande
CHIEF Administration Officers (CAOs) have called for a complete decentralization of all salary payment processes in order to address salary and payroll anomalies of civil servants.
They suggested that payrolls should be generated by local governments and forwarded to the ministry of finance for final processing copied to the ministry of public service because the ministry of public service always delays in accessing staff on payroll and sending preliminary payrolls late to the districts.
The Officers made the appeal on Thursday during their meeting with a select committee that is scrutinising the recent report of the committee on public service and local government that cited anomalies in regard to public servants’ payroll, including salary cuts, unexplained deletions from the payroll and ghosts workers.
They included those from Mbarara, Kasese, Bushenyi, Tororo and Kabale districts.
“They have given us pseudo authority. We make submissions of pay change report forms to the ministry of public service in time, but wonder why the ministry always takes long to access staff on payroll,” the Kasese CAO, William Kanyesigye, remarked.
Adding: “They don’t even give us feedback in time as to why some cases are not accessed on payroll so that corrective action is taken in the next processing month.”
He stressed that the preliminary payroll is generally received late after the 20th day of the month and the time given to verify the payroll by all head of departments and heads of education institutions in the district is inadequate.
The principal human resource officer of Mbarara Jackline Masaba said the on-going mismanagement of the payroll by the centre had adversely affected staff morale and hence their performance levels.
“There is therefore the need for a payroll policy reform geared towards complete decentralization of salary payments,” she suggested.
Wakiso CAO David Naluwairo said that it was unfortunate that his district was selected to be one of the pilot districts for decentralised payroll, when public service ministry had only migrated about 75% of district staff from legacy system to Integrated Personnel Payroll System (IPPS).
“Therefore, no staff would be accessed on the Integrated Financial Management Systems (IFMS) pay system if he or she has not been migrated from legacy to IPPS. This was the biggest cause of delayed salary payment where by about 25% of staff mainly teachers missed February and March salary,” Naluwairo explained.
The Tororo CAO Vitalis Oswan said that the roll out of the decentralization of salary payment was done hurriedly like a ‘hot potato’ without learning from past mistakes/success and making adjustments.
“The exercise commenced in January, it was rolled to 36 votes in February and by April all IFMS sites had been covered,’’ he stated.
The officials also argued that they have no control over wage budget and that according to the ministry of finance permanent secretary (Keith Muhakanizi), finance ministry acts as a ‘cashier’ while the accounting officers of local governments ought to address non-payment/under payment and over payment.
“This would be a good arrangement if only the funds were actually decentralised so that each party carry their own cross. The blame game in the newspapers has portrayed some of us as inefficient and therefore responsible for the plight of civil servants who have not received salaries yet there are many underlying factors,” Oswan commented.
The committee, however, observed that the blame should be shared because some CAOs like of Mbarara and Kasese had maintained retired workers on their payrolls and had same individuals on two or three districts’ payrolls.
“Once you’re an accounting officer you must be an accounting officer. From what I have heard there is total confusion and you seem not to be doing due diligence or you’re colluding with some people to mess up the payrolls,” the Rukiiga County MP Jack Sabiiti noted.
“We need you here again tomorrow when we shall be interacting with ministries of public service and finance so that this blame game is stopped and the people deliberately causing confusion are known and appropriate recommendations for the entire House to take action,” the Oyam Woman MP Santa Alum said.
CAOs want salary payment process decentralised