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PAC Queries Recruitment of Extension Workers

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has directed the Ministry of Agriculture to avail comprehensive accountability for 32.2 billion Shillings used to recruit agricultural extension workers in financial year 2017/2018.
Officials from the Agriculture Ministry appearing before PAC.

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Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee-PAC has directed the Ministry of Agriculture to avail comprehensive accountability for 32.2 billion Shillings used to recruit agricultural extension workers in financial year 2017/2018.

Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries on Monday appeared before the committee chaired by Budadiri West MP Nathan Nandala Mafabi. They were led by the Permanent Secretary Pius Wakabi Kasajja to answer to audit queries raised by Auditor General John Muwanga in his June 2018 report.

In the report, Muwanga queried the utilization of released funds to the ministry noting that out of the budgeted 174 billion budgeted to cater for different activities in the entity; only 151.9 billion had been released resulting into a shortfall of 22 billion.

The Auditor General further noted that out of the released 151.9 billion, only 151.4 billion was utilized by the Ministry leaving unspent balance of 566 million which was largely due to salary balances and funds related to agricultural suppliers and extension activities in Local Governments.

The report revealed that out of the planned recruitment and training of 5,000 extension workers budgeted at 39 billion, only 3,377 were recruited with a released budget of 32 billion leaving 1,623 positions of extension workers not filled in different districts. Wakabi explained the shortfall in the budget releases.

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Wakabi also noted that the recruitment of the extension workers was affected by late recruitments at the Local Government and shortage of specific competence in some districts.

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Tasked by PAC Chairperson to give the status of the recruitment exercise, Fred Mayanja, the Commissioner Planning in the Agriculture Ministry said that so far 3,860 extension workers have been recruited representing 72% of the planned required workers across the country.

He added that the ministry has been able to provide 1,060 motorcycles to some of the recruited workers and also provided a double cabin vehicle in every district. The committee also learnt that the recruitment was based on a cabinet recommendation to recruit a maximum of 3 extension workers in every district to fill positions of a fisheries staff, crop staff and animal staff.

Mayanja’s submission sparked off different queries from MPs. Amudat Woman representative Rosemary Nauwat questioned whether the acquired 1,060 motorcycles were enough for all the extension workers.

She also inquired to know where the recruited extension workers have been deployed since their presence is not felt on ground.

PAC Vice Chairperson Okin P.P Ojara demanded that the Agriculture Ministry satisfies his committee that when all the required 5,000 workers are recruited there will be value for money.

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Fredrick Angura, the Tororo South County MP asked the Agriculture Ministry officials about the percentage of people practising agriculture who are currently in the money economy so that they can be able to assess the value of the extension workers.

Kalungu West MP Joseph Sewungu demanded that the ministry avails details of the recruitment exercise citing a need for the committee to ascertain where the recruited extension workers are and under whose supervision.

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PAC Chairperson Nandala ruled that the Agriculture ministry submits to the committee details of the recruited staff so far in every district, where they are missing and the specific instruments given to local governments in line with the recruitment exercise among others. He directed that the comprehensive details about the recruitment should be submitted to the PAC Secretariat by Tuesday for a review.

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