About 80 cabinet and state ministers, more than 390 Members of Parliament, over 278 political appointees who include about 80 resident District Commissioners and assistants, more than 75 presidential advisors and over 43 private presidential secretaries and their deputies. This is just a picture of Uganda's over-the-top public administration. "Pearl of Africa" as commonly known, is argued that, not only is it a sleeping giant but also an over-governed and unproductive country.
Uganda has many administrative units. About 50,000 local councils, about 7431 parishes, about 1403 sub-counties, at least 167 counties, about 22 municipalities and about 144 districts (including the newly approved 23 districts). All these structures have at least 10-man executive officials. So, the total number of officials is more than 10 times the number of every administrative unit.
How does this nation manages its servants? Uganda's expenditure is very enormous and abnormal.
A presidential advisor and his deputy earn more than 908.5 million Ugandan shillings, enough to pay 378 primary school teachers a salary of 200,000 Ugandan shillings a month.
Private presidential secretary and his assistant earn more than 7.5 billion shillings, enough to support 2,077 primary schools with 800 pupils each, buy drugs for 890 health centers, construct 935 classrooms or pay 37,500 primary school teachers. Every member of Parliament earns at least 15 million shillings a month excluding the allowances. The allowances here include free government vehicles, free fuel and maintenance, etc. In other words, the allowances together are about 3 times the base salary every month.
In 1986, when Uganda's National Resistance Movement came to power, inflation was around 240 percent and it collected just 84 billion in revenue. It worked tirelessly and revived the economy reducing inflation to 0.3 percent. The present government collects 4 trillion in revenue but even sectors like education and health which used to be very vibrant in Uganda, are now in shambles.
Uganda has around 43 million people. According to the ministry of health, there's one doctor to every 300,000 people. Surprisingly, there's about one administrative leader to every 600 Ugandans. Uganda has one of the poorest administrative structures in the entire world. The poor administration can and only provides poor services to its citizens. The government at times makes good policies but unfortunately, it is almost impossible for Uganda to implement some of those policies. In the end, despite the numerous policies on paper, almost nothing good comes out them.
For example, policies like the decentralization policy to help distribute resources evenly, the minimum health package which puts all health centers under a structured organization, the Medium Term Expenditure Framework which would make the government budget and expenditure known after every 3 years, etc. are examples of some great policies which do exist only on paper and not in reality. Such good and "efficient" policies have been made by the government on paper yet over 600 billion Ugandan shillings go down the drain without any trace almost every single year.
The main reason why such good policies cannot be implemented in Uganda today is due mainly to the government's huge expenditure on its top leaders and the very poor wages paid to its civil servants. This has led to absenteeism, lack of morale, etc. as most of these poor public servants take other jobs besides their regular jobs just to make ends meet.
It is quite sad considering the fact that Uganda has produced some of the brightest people in all of East Africa with prestigious institutions (such as the prestigious Makerere University) but has the lowest productivity in the entire region. The truth of the matter is that, Ugandans keep juggling at their available natural resources to the point of stuffing all their leaders to the brim like holiday turkeys.
Another major problem facing Uganda today is the problem of "let's pass new laws". Uganda has this "barbaric" culture of passing laws to solve all problems. This has led to nothing but a big country full of laws but lawlessness. Laws are being passed every single day yet the ones present are neither effective nor implementable. For example, Uganda has failed miserably at implementing the traffic and productive laws and because the government is beginning to feel the heat from the media, Uganda has passed yet another law to gag the media, limiting public participation in governance and locking up journalists with dissenting views (a clear indication of an extremely failed government. Dictatorship in this case)
Pundits say that, for the country to develop, it needs to reduce its administrative leaders, get more serious in enforcing its policies and laws. The administration is the main cause of the government's huge expenditure, leading to lack of funds in other sectors and nothing but extreme poverty and hunger across the entire country. Uganda as a nation needs to be serious in economic transformation and development by getting its priorities right. The first step of which includes getting rid of this highly bloated but very unproductive system of administration. And don't forget Uganda still houses some of the most corrupt leaders in the world today.
Civil societies, great donors, private sector experts and political analysts have all raised numerous concerns over the governments expenditure on its administration but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Uganda as a country does not only need a budget discipline but also in great need of getting its priorities right and starting from the top seems like the most sensible thing to do especially at this time.