The Minister of Finance has increased sitting allowances for district councillors from 100,000 to Shs250,000 in the 201516 National Budget. Allowances for municipal and district deputy speakers will also be increased from Shs200,000 to Shs400,000. This increment puts them in same or similar wage range with teachers and other professionals like nurses. It is unreasonable to remunerate part-time councillors who sit a few times in a month to the same level as teachers, health workers and other professionals who work full time. Besides, the councillors often are absent from the sittings for which they are paid full allowances at the end of month. Even those who attend often do little or no useful work during the proceedings. They simply sit and wait for time to sign for their allowances. It is a similar case with parliamentarians who dodge proceedings and Bills and reports cannot be debated for lack of quorum but yet earn about Shs15m a month often times for doing no work.
There have been strikes by teachers and healthmedical workers across the country agitating for salary increment and improved working conditions. The government has always explained that there is no money for such increments because the National Budget is small. Last year, when teachers went on strike for salary increment, President Museveni stated categorically that the government could not afford their pay because the little money available was for infrastructure development. However, this reasoning becomes untenable when the government which says it has no money to improve wages of its professionals can at the same time find money to reward politicians for politicking purposes.
This sends a bad signal that the government cares about politicians more than its professionals. It becomes even more intriguing that the government is reducing budget funding for key sectors like education, health and agriculture to provide money for non-core service providers like councillors, who even have full time jobs elsewhere which they attend to daily.
This kind of irrational remuneration has potential of creating a demoralising impact across underpaid professionals in our service delivery sector on account that they are not considered a priority.
It would appear this increment is a ploy for 2016 general elections. The councillors are potential campaign task forces at both the district and local level in favour of the ruling party to pay back for the remuneration.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor