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Gov’t proposes to slash embassy staff

Uganda High Commission in London

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  |  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has unveiled plans to start the process of re-evaluating the number of workers in Ugandan embassies abroad and subscription to International organizations.

The Foreign Affairs State Minister, Henry Okello Oryem, says the move is aimed at trimming the number of embassy staff and subscription in billions of Shillings to international organizations to save money. He was speaking before the Foreign Affairs Committee to present the budget estimates for the financial year 2021/2022.

Uganda has 35 Missions employing between 6-10 staff including the Ambassador, Deputy Ambassador, Defence attaché, Deputy Defense Attaché, First Secretary Political affairs, Second secretary commercial and diplomacy, second secretary social and Humanitarian affairs, third secretary, Financial Attaché, counsellor diaspora and consular services. Others are Administrative Attaché, drivers and House helps for the Ambassadors among others.

Oryem says that Government is proposing to adopt the Vietnam or Cuban model where only two or three staff are deployed in embassies and consulates.  According to Oryem, if this model, which is still a proposal, is adopted, it will save Government from paying billions of Shillings.

He says in the Vietnam model, only the Ambassador and First secretary are deployed while other staff can be on contract, adding that a driver can be hired on contract only on official duties.   

Pecos Kutesa, the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) Representative in Parliament questioned the relevance of certain embassies, saying although they were strategic then, they are not strategic now. He says there is a need to review the embassies.   

According to Oryem, all embassies are strategic, except that they need to make an assessment of those that can be concentrated on for their economic diplomacy purposes. Oryem also said that there are plans to re-evaluate Uganda’s subscription to International Agencies, saying that in some cases they are paying billions of money to these organizations without any tangible benefit.

He says that they will soon generate a list of the organizations that are helpful and the ones they think are no longer necessary. According to reports, Uganda owes international organisations close to Shillings 34 billion. Some of the Organisations that have previously suffered this include; World Trade Organization, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and South Center among others.

The Ministry decried a reduction in their budget for the foreign missions and headquarters from Shillings 243 Billion this financial year to Shillings 224 Billion in the next financial year.



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