KAMPALA – Legislators on the Parliamentary Budget Committee have rejected a proposal to increase the salary of cultural and traditional leaders arguing that the move is likely to attract more splits and distort social order within smaller communities sprouting just to benefit from the money.
Government through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development had proposed to increase monthly allowances to traditional and cultural leaders to shs10m up from Shs5M the local leaders have been receiving.
When the leaders of the Committee of Gender brought up the matter during discussions on the 2019/2020 national budget appropriation bill, a section of MPs Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala County) Okoth Othieno (West Budama North), Cecilia Ogwal (Dokolo Woman MP) and Justine Khainza (Bududa Woman MP) rejected the move describing the proposal as wastage of funds to an already cash-strained budget stating that traditional institutions are supposed to be supported by the communities they serve and not the whole nation.
Mr. Muwanga argued: “Those cultural institutions that cannot live by themselves should collapse after all cultures extinguish.”
Ms. Ogwal also blamed the Ministry of Gender for failing to come up with policies on how to resolve grievances in areas where cultural leadership is contested, citing an example in Lango that has been left with two cultural chiefs.
She argued: “May we now resolve that where there is a conflict as to who is to be the cultural leader, we should stop public funds from financing those institutions, I think that will show a sense of responsibility.” Her proposal was adopted by the Committee and is awaiting final debate and vote by Parliament during debate on the appropriation bill.
It should be recalled that the Ministry of Gender highlighted the privileges and benefits of traditional or cultural leaders as one of the unfunded priorities in the coming financial year highlighting that Shs632,819,200 is required to carry out activities in fulfilment of these requirements.
Among the items needed are the purchase of official vehicle with a capacity of 4165 CC, four (4) wheel drive, five (5) cylinders diesel and five (5) speed manual transmission as well as an escort car: capacity of 2B00CC; four (4) cylinders diesel engine, water cooled with OHC, five (5) speed manual transmission; and Annual unconditional honorarium as tax free allowance of Shs120M per year per traditional/Cultural leader.
There are a total of 15 recognized Traditional Leaders by Government and each of them paid Shs120M annually translating into Shs1.800b annually however only Shs900M was provided in the coming budget leaving a shortfall of Shs900b.
The Ministry also argued that the cost for the motorcade is Shs315,521,280 equivalent of ($57,098 for Official Vehicle; USD30,742 for the Support Car bringing the cost of the 15 vehicles required to Shs4,732,8 19,200b.
The Ministry, therefore, requires an additional Shs5,632,819,2OO to provide full Privilege and benefits to 15 traditional leaders in 2019/2020 financial year.