Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) – Central Government has directed the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Patrick Mugoya to submit a comprehensive report on the state of the country’s missions and properties abroad.
The Committee Chaired by Budadiri West MP Nathan Nandala Mafabi wants the report to be availed in the next three days. This follows several concerns from legislators about the poor state of Uganda’s missions abroad and the failure by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem to avail the report as earlier directed by Parliament.
Ambassador Mugoya was on Monday leading a team of officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to respond to audit queries raised by the Auditor General, John Muwanga in his financial year 2018/2019 report.
Peter Ocen, the Kole South MP said that besides the dilapidated missions, there are few staff at the different Missions abroad as well as unclear administration systems.
He asked whether the Ministry had a plan to ensure deployment of adequate staff and how to handle administrative challenges.
Alex Asiimwe, the Head of Human Resource in the Ministry acknowledged that some of the Missions are not well staffed and that the Ministry of Public Service costed the structures which they presented for funding.
“Unfortunately the proposal at the time was that we do it at a phased manner which we are doing but what has been happening over the years is that there has always been a freeze on the recruitment of staff as a result of lack of resources. And it is even worse with the foreign Missions because just an officer to be recruited here and posted abroad, you need a minimum of Shillings 450 millions,” he explained.
He added that it has not been easy to fill the staffing gaps due to mainly financial challenges.
Rosemary Nauwat, the Amudat Woman MP questioned the status of the construction of Uganda’s Mission in Guanghou as well as the issue of one ambassador being in charge of two to three countries.
In response, Ambassador Mugoya said that they had progressed to a level of evaluating proposals of companies that had expressed interest in taking on the project just before the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that once airports are opened, Uganda’s Contracts Committee will be able to travel and conclude the process since the designs are ready.
Regarding the issue of ambassadors covering several countries, Mugoya said that this cannot be avoided due to limited financial resources.
PAC Chairperson Nandala directed that the Ministry avails a report on the status of the Ministry’s Missions abroad and other properties before and the inquiry on the matter continues.
The Ministry of Finance has previously said that the solution to the state of the country’s missions abroad lies in adequate funding.