By Enoth Mbeine
The story in the New Vision of February 25, 2014 about the Tororo district councilors storming out of a meeting that was recently organised by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development because of “small” allowances raises a red flag!
These developments represent, in microcosm, what is happening in the country as a whole! This habit is especially rampant among the civil servants and politicians in the local government.
It is not that giving out allowances is bad; the major problem is the execution and the conditions in which the people receive the allowances. This syndrome breeds the “entitlement effect”, in this particular case, the Tororo councilors assumed that they were entitled to “bigger” allowances.
Lewis Mandell, an American finance expert states that “An allowance is statistically associated with diminished financial literacy, lower levels of motivation and an aversion to work”.
This idea of dishing out huge allowances, indeed, makes people lazy, unmotivated and bad managers of money.
This tends to also create a high degree of dependence, kills innovation and creativity, mainly because the people do not understand what money means, how to save it, spend it or later on invest it because it comes easily.
It is common practice for especially the youth to always look out for seminars, workshops or meetings with the sole purpose of wanting to cash in on the allowances, even when the subject of discussion in these meetings might be irrelevant to them!
It is these same people who become very agitated when their allowances expectations are not met by the organisers of the meetings.
We can, however, reverse this worrying trend of events. Organisations seeking to organise these meetings should be clear in their communication to the people right from the beginning, and when they provide the allowance, they should describe exactly what the money is for.
Organisations should also research for realistic amounts of allowances to give out in a particular area and not to instead distort the “market”.
Organisations like the NGO Forum can take the lead in coordinating the various organisations to come up with standard payouts, that is if they are indeed necessary!
With this, the idea of putting money above service delivery will be adequately checked.
The writer is a senior consultant, Business Development Services
FIT Uganda Ltd