By Innocent Anguyo
Makerere University staff and the Management have struck a new deal, giving the latter at least two more weeks to clear arrears worth sh7.4b of two months allowances owed to the former.
The deal was reached in a meeting between the Management headed by the vice chancellor, Prof John Ddumba Ssentamu and chairpersons of the three staff associations- Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA), National Union of Educational Institutions (NUEI) and Makerere Administrative Staff Association (MASA).
According to Ritah Namisango, the senior Makerere University spokesperson, the executives of the three staff associations on Friday resolved to give the university management two more weeks to pay the sh7.4b.
“During the meeting, the University Management explained that the incentive for the two months of May and June 2014 had not been paid due to a shortfall in the expected university income.” Namisango explained.
“The University did not realize its projected total revenue for the financial year 2013/2014 amounting to sh122.6b. All efforts are being made to investigate the causes of the short fall of sh23.1b, and as such, the University Management has requested for more time to enable them to address this matter.”
The budget deficit, Namisango said arose from unplanned offset of arrears accumulated in previous financial years.
“There are certain arrears which were paid during the Financial Year 2013/2014, but were not part of the Financial Year 2013/2014 budget. These included external examiners’ bills, contract staff, service providers, unpaid bills from colleges.
These bills for the previous financial years as far back as Financial Year 2007/2008 encroached on the budget of the Financial Year 2013/2014 and indeed affected the implementation of the planned activities including the May and June 2014 Incentive,” said Namisango.
The staff last week warned that they would not report to work in the next academic year, if they did not receive their top up allowance for the last two months by Friday. The new academic year starts on Saturday August 16 2014.
Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, the Makerere University deputy vice-chancellor in charge of finance and administration subsequently said the institution did not have the money to pay the incentives just yet.
Despite the management’s stand that there wasn’t much in the institution’s granary to offer to the staff as incentive, on Wednesday, the staff echoed their earlier stand in a meeting at Makerere University.
This prompted the Chairperson of the University Council (supreme decision making organ), Eng. Dr. Charles Wana Etyem to order the University Management to hold a meeting with the chairpersons of the three staff associations on Friday to discuss the matter in a bid to chart a way forward.
It was in that meeting that the management and the executives of the staff associations struck the dealing, giving the university two more weeks to clear the allowance arrears.
“The University Management appeals to all university staff to remain calm as we jointly work to solve this matter,” said Namisango.
Sources at the university said the management would not pay the arrears until the incoming first year students pay their tuition fees, which is the principal source of Makerere’s finances.
However, the 90-year old university is yet to release the list students admitted under the private sponsorship scheme.
Application to be considered for admission under scheme closed last week. The university plans to admit 20,000 students on private.
Earlier this week, it was announced that the incoming first year students would part with an additional 10% tuition fees.
Dr. Mohammad Kiggundu, the chairperson of the staff is opposed to the idea of the university relying on tuition to meet its financial obligations, beseeching the management to explore alternative resource mobolisation schemes such as creating a private wing at the University Hospital and developing Makerere’s idle lands.
Last year, Makerere University Council made a 70% allowance increment for all staff in a bid to motivate them but the implementation of the scheme has never been seamless, due to shortage of finances.
The allowance is paid using internally-sources money.
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Makerere staff, management strike deal on sh7.4b allowance arrears