The government owes pensioners Shs1.2 trillion in arrears, according to the House Committee on Public Service and Local Government, a figure the Public Service ministry doubts.
Shs1.2 trillion would mean the arrears have increased by 113.7 per cent over the last 12 months.
“It was learnt that after the recent verification, the arrears of pension stand at Shs1.2 trillion,” the committee says through a May 22 report.
“And according to the Final Budget Call Circular issued by the ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development for the FY2017/18, the ministry provided only Shs121 billion.”
When the Daily Monitor contacted Mr Victor Bua Leku, the assistant commissioner in the Public Service ministry, on Saturday, May 27, he said he is yet to read the committee’s report.
As such, he said he does not know how the committee came to say the arrears have increased to Shs1.2 trillion.
Even then, Mr Leku said, “I do not think it [arrears figure] is that much [Shs1.2 trillion].
In February, the State minister for Public Service, David Karubanga, told Parliament the annual government pension obligation amounts to Shs249,196,049,172 billion
The Annual Report of the Auditor General on the Financial Statements of GoU for the Financial Year Ended 30th June 2016 Central Government and Statutory Corporations suggests the arrears have been rising over the years (see attached line graph).
Accumulation of the arrears is often a result of some ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) skipping paying pensioners in some months.
One of the reasons the MDAs give is the Finance ministry has not released money for pensions.
It is probable the ministry of Finance, which knows the government’s priorities, of which clearing arrears is not, allocates money accordingly.
Nothing could drive this point home than the fact that for the next fiscal year, the Finance ministry has budgeted Shs121 billion to pay pension arrears.
Now the House Committee on Public Service and Local Government wants the Finance ministry to commit more money to clear pension arrears.
“The ministry of Finance should submit to Parliament a breakdown showing the schedule on how the government is going to clear all pension arrears beginning with the FY2017/18,” the committee says through a May 22 report.
It is improbable that the Finance ministry will pull the Shs1.2 trillion rabbit out of the hat between now and June 8 when the Finance minister will present the Financial Year 2017/18 budget to Ugandans.
Between February 20 and March 30 this year, the Public Service ministry verified the number of pensioners.
One of the objectives of the verification was to establish the total number of valid pensioners’ records, for each category and vote.
Only 48, 000 of the 70,085 pensioners showed up for verification.
The other objectives of the verification were to capture the biometric details of all pensioners and beneficiaries with valid letters of Administration for proper identification on the pension payroll and to identify and remove invalid pensioners’ records from the payroll
It was also meant to link the pensioners’ records to the National Identification Register, for faster, easier verification of pensioners in future.
16, 264 – retired teachers on the payroll
23, 483 – veterans, survivors on the payroll
30, 338 – other retired civil servants