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HUGE LEADERS’ ALLOWANCES CHOCK LOCAL DEVELOPMENT

By Vision Reporter

Added 22nd October 2008 03:00 AM

THERE is no doubt that decentralisation delegated a lot of roles to the local governants.

THERE is no doubt that decentralisation delegated a lot of roles to the local governants.

By Joshua Kato

THERE is no doubt that decentralisation delegated a lot of roles to the local governants.

This also resulted into the creation of more jobs and several administrative tiers. However, while districts were supposed to stimulate developments at the grassroots, partly using local revenue, the district political leaders seem more bent on spending the locally generated revenue on allowances than on development projects.

Almost 80% of the local revenue and unconditional grants is spent on paying salaries and district leaders’ allowances.

Capital development is almost solely financed by the Central Government, yet some districts like Kampala generate huge sums of revenue. For instance, in the 2003/04 financial year, Ssembabule district spent sh607m on management and support services and sh220m on the council, committees as well as boards, yet only sh274m had been collected.

Previously, LC5 and LC3 chairmen were also paid from locally-raised revenue. But two years ago, the Government started paying them from the consolidated fund which should have naturally freed some funds for capital development.

However, the local governments say the abolition of graduated tax badly affected their revenue base. Every LC5 chairperson and vice earns a monhtly salary of sh2m and sh1m, respectively. Members of the district executive each get sh600,000 a month.

The Government spends about sh120m per month on salaries of civil servants in each district. This translates into about sh1.4b annually for each of the 81 districts, excluding teachers’ salaries.

While district civil servants earn their statutory salaries, some rich districts have exploited the Local Government Act to pay the political leadership huge allowances.

Article 6 of the Local Government Act 1997 stipulates that district councils should not spend more than 20% of the locally generated revenue on their allowances. The rest is spent on co-funding government programmes, while 25% is returned to parishes and villages.

However, should a district like Kampala which expects to collect sh28b this financial spend all its 20% share (sh5.6b) on councillors allowances?

To try to exhaust the sh5.6b, Kampala councillors pay themselves sh350,000 per committee sitting and a simillar amount for an ordinary The committees sit three times a month while an ordinary council session takes place after every two months.

In Wakiso and Mukono, a councillor earns about sh500,000 a month. In urban ‘rich’ districts, LC5 chairpersons have fuel allowances that amount to about sh5m a month. In Kira Town Council, a councillor gets sh150,000 per committee sitting and sh250,000 at an ordinary council meeting.

But in rural districts like Lira, councillors get a sh100,000 sitting allowance and a sh70,000 night allowance. In other rural districts, councillors get a sitting allowance of sh5,000 because they cannot raise the necessary local revenue.

Countrywide, however, local leaders through their umbrella body, the Uganda Local Governments Association, are lobbying for the mandatory 20% of local revenue to be raised to at least 30%. “We request that districts are given a leeway in determining how much local revenue should be spent on councillors’ allowances,” Rakai LC5 Vincent Ssemakula says.

However, the local government ministry has not approved the request.

There is also a problem of similar administrative roles. The new tiers include LC1 to LC5 officials, civil servants and security heads.

At the top of the political leadership is the LC5 chairperson or mayor (in a city), who heads the district. He is supported by councillors, from whom five are elected onto the executive committee.

At the sub-county level, the head is the LC3 chairperson or mayor (in a municipality), who is supported by a council that comprises councillors.

Councillors are elected through various ways. At the district level, every sub-county has two councillors. One is the directly elected and the other must be a woman representative. At the sub-county level, every parish has a male and female representative, in addition to the two representatives for the disabled and two for the youth.

Each of the 81 districts has an average of 40 councillors, therefore, there are at least 2,430 councillors. Of the 1,000 sub-counties each with 40 councillors, Uganda has about 30,000 councillors at the sub-county.

The civil tiers of leadership include the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) at the district, who is assisted by heads of departments. At the sub-county level, there is an assistant CAO, who is also assisted by heads of departments.

Overall, there are about 250 paid staff in each district and 700 salaried field staff.

The increased number of new districts, from 39 to 81, means resources have been strained. On average, every new district creates 30 new councillors and at least 150 civil servants.

The district service commission has about five officials, a district contracts committee with about five officials and a district public accounts committee. All these commissions have offices and support staff. A new district also needs headquarters, and vehicles.

HUGE LEADERS’ ALLOWANCES CHOCK LOCAL DEVELOPMENT

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