By Mary Karugaba
THE ministry of public service is to clear pension arrears amounting to sh51b this financial year, state minister Sezi Mbaguta has said.
She said the money would cater for pension arrears for traditional civil servants, teachers, former employees of the East African Airways Corporation, defence veterans and defence widows.
She said traditional civil servants would get sh3.8b out of sh79b total arrears, teachers sh3.6b, defence veterans sh5b out of sh107b, defence widows sh7.4b out of sh40.2b and former EAC employees sh10b out of sh37b.
Mbaguta was appearing before the parliamentary public service committee on Thursday chaired by William Wopuwa.
She was presenting the ministryâ€™s policy statement for the financial year 2006/2007.
She said total pension arrears as of June 30, 2006, amounted to sh320b.
Mbaguta said the ministry would clear all pension arrears through increased budget support.
She said the ministry of finance had agreed to earmark funds every financial year to clear the arrears over the next five years.
The permanent Secretary, Jimmy Rwamafa, said the government would pursue alternative methods such as borrowing funds from development partners to clear the arrears.
However, the committee insisted that since the ministry of finance had not allocated any funds to clear the pension arrears for the retired local government officials, the ministry should get about sh5b to clear their pension arrears currently amounting to sh17.5b.
â€œThe government in 2001 promised to provide about sh21b to clear pension arrears for local government but up to now nothing has been done to that effect. We suggest that out of sh51b, at least sh5b be given to the local government,â€ Anthony Yiga said.
But Mbaguta and Rwamafa rejected the proposal, saying the money was already budgeted for and pension clearing for local government officials was not the responsibility of the ministry of Public service.
Wopuwa urged the ministry to clear â€œthe peopleâ€™s pension before most of them die and leave it for other â€˜officialsâ€™ to enjoy it.â€