How Judiciary has managed UGX 600m shortfall of wage bill

Reduced Salaries, Laid off Redundant Workers are some of the methods used in managing the shortfall 

The top management of the Judiciary headed by Chief Justice Bart Katureebe approved the proposal to reduce salaries with minor amendments of judicial officers and also lay off workers deemed weak and redundant as acknowledged by their supervisors.

The decision was made to manage a shortfall of UGX 600 million, a wage bill for staff on local contracts which accumulated beyond the institution’s budget provision.

As a result of this decision, the affected workers have since rushed to social media influencers to cry foul and also malign the Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana as having powers to determine salaries at the Judiciary.

However, this website landed on minutes drafted by a taskforce of five highly skilled officials within the judiciary and later approved by the top administrators in relation to streamlining the financial position of the institution.

Late last year, it was established that the wage requirement for staff on local contracts was more than the budget provision by over shs 600 million because the funds meant for other activities were being used contrary, to the law.

The decision to constitute the panel of five experts was hinged on the fact that some contracts of staff were already running, fortunately expiring in the middle of the Financial Year therefore this problem would be solved by rationalizing contract renewals due at the end of December 2019.

It was anticipated that this would be achieved by not renewing contracts of officers who had various weaknesses as raised in the reports from their supervisors, and those who were deemed redundant as reported by seine courts.

The five experts on the taskforce include:

Maureen Kasande, the Undersecretary/Chairperson

Justice Boniface Wamala, Judge of the High Court/ member

Ayebare Tumwebaze, assistant registrar/ member

Mrs Tumwine Apophia, Principal HRO/ secretary

Sulaiman Hirome, principal assistant secretary/ member

Opolot Simon Peter, principal economist/ member

The Task Force was tasked to review the applications for contract renewal and recommend those who were suitable for re-appointment with the view of;

Recommending only those who had satisfactory recommendations from their supervisors, ensuring that we fit within the wage bill and the establishment structure, harmonizing contract staff salaries with those on permanent and pensionable terms and the Task force submitted its report and some of the recommendations related to this subject matter include the following:

Contracts of all Office Attendants and Process Servers not to be renewed except for special cases.

This was based on the fact that redundancies were reported by various offices in this category.

Besides there is a good number of officers in this category on permanent and pensionable terms.

Renewal of contracts for Research Officers who are not attached to any Justice/Judge to be pended.

Officers whose positions were not vacant on the structure not to be renewed. These included; one Communications Officer and three Clerks of Works

Officers who did not meet the minimum requirements for the jobs and did not qualify for any other available positions not to be renewed. These included: Three Copy Typists and Ten Court Clerks.

Despite the above recommendations which were hoped to reduce the Wage Bill, on analysis, it was established that there is still a shortfall of over UGX 400m.

It was therefore decided that since contract renewals can have new terms, the salaries be reduced to enable us fit within the budget.

However, with the reduced salaries the judiciary still has a shortfall of about UGX 70m.

Solomon Muyita, the Judiciary spokesperson earlier weighed in on the taskforce’s decisions saying:

“It’s no secret the Judiciary engages some staff on short-term Local Temporary Contracts every year and performance reviews are conducted upon expiry of the contracts for purposes of weeding out those that fall short of the job requirements.

I’m aware that over 400 out of 508 staff who re-applied for their contract renewals at the end of 2019 luckily got renewals on recommendation from an Adhoc- Committee comprising senior Judicial and Administration staff.

The Committee however, recommended the non-renewal of some contracts for various reasons, including under performance or indiscipline, and redundancy. All the affected were individually notified in writing.”

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