Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Chief Administrative Officers-CAOs and town clerks used a corruption sensitization meeting convened by the Inspectorate of Government-IG to lobby for a pay rise, saying their meager earnings tempt them to engage in corruption.
The Inspector General of Government Beti Olive Kamya was meeting the Chief Administrative Officers-CAOs and Town Clerks from different parts of the country at Africana on Friday. During the meeting, the CAOs and Town clerks complained about discrimination in terms of remuneration compared to other government accounting officers such as University Secretaries and Permanent Secretaries something that creates a fertile ground for them to engage in corruption.
Gabriel Atama, the Tororo Chief Administrative Officer referred to a 2017 study conducted by the Equal Opportunities Commission about salary disparities in the government that found that while the CAOs were earning less than Shillings 3 million, some of their counterparts working as accounting officers were earning more than Shillings 50 million.
Atama notes that with a salary of Shillings 2.3 million, the CAO is doing more work supervising thousands of workers and ensuring that development projects are implemented as their colleagues at the Central government earn more and do less work. He implored the government to embrace the principle of equity, arguing that the IGG should push for that since it’s also under her mandate to ensure equity.
Rhoda Oroma, the Oyam Deputy Chief Administrative Officer shared a similar opinion. Citing the Lord’s Prayer, Oroma said that government should not lead them into temptation by giving them peanuts for salary and entrusting them with hundreds of millions of Shillings to manage.
Hajj Uthman Sebadduka, the Town Clerk of Kamuli Municipality said that away from the salaries, the accounting officers in local governments are poorly facilitated to do their work. For instance, he said they do not have vehicles in which to travel while doing official work yet many cannot afford vehicles of their own.
Sebadduka wonders how corruption can be countered by people operating in such an environment, with a government that has paid a deaf ear to their cries while spending heavily on a bloated Parliament and councils.
The Inspector General of Government Beti Olive Kamya committed to amplifying their cry to other relevant authorities in government such that their working conditions improve.
She warned them against turning to corruption to satisfy their financial hunger, saying that if caught, they shall face the law. She further urged them to make use of the 5 percent commission provided to whistleblowers when they report corrupt officers and funds recovered.
The IGG appealed to the Chief Executive Officers and Town Clerks to use their positions as accounting Officers to fight corruption in Local Governments. Kamya says that as accounting officers, corruption cannot happen unless they participate either directly or indirectly, willing or unknowingly through foul play or sheer ignorance.
She said that while the Inspectorate has previously focused its energy on investigating corruption cases and prosecuting culprits, it’s important to shift efforts to fighting corruption before it manifests. This is why she met with these accounting officers to mobilize them to report any officials engaged in corruption such that public finances are saved.
A report released by the IG in 2021 indicated that Uganda loses over Shillings 10 trillion to corruption annually, an alarming figure that Kamya says could do so much to develop the country. She for instance says that if that money were to be utilized under the Parish Development Model every Parish would get about Shillings one billion, which would be invested in the Parish SACCOS to provide capital to the citizens.