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Soroti Tasks OPM to Explain Budget Cuts, Salary Discrepancies

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Luke Lokuda, the Soroti Chief Administrative Officer, said that the budget cuts have caused a huge gap in service delivery, especially on road works.
Dr. Julius Okello, the team leader and head of infrastructure development at OPM delivery unit .

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Officials from the Office of the Prime Minister- OPM had a tough time explaining salary discrepancies and regular local government budget cuts during their visit to Soroti. Both District and City Council authorities said that that they are struggling to serve their communities due to unexplained budget cuts and low morale among civil servants due to salary discrepancies.

The officials had a rare opportunity when OPM officials came to the ground to inquire about the issues affecting service delivery. Both the technical and political leaders in the district and city said that their performance is affected by central government releases that sometimes don’t favour the development of projects undertaken by the entities.

Luke Lokuda, the Soroti Chief Administrative Officer, said that the budget cuts have caused a huge gap in service delivery, especially on road works. Citing their annual budget for road works, Lokuda said that instead of the proposed Shillings 6 billion budget, the district only received Shillings 800 million from the central government last financial year.

Lokuda said that this quarter alone, the district only received Shillings 56million out of the Shillings 219 million planned for the road works. He notes that the money cannot even pay road gangs for three months and yet the line ministries have not provided any explanation to the district.

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Robert Kairu, the Soroti City Engineer, says that under the Uganda Road Fund, the Indicative Planning Figures- IPFs for City was Shillings 1.2 billion but the city received less than Shillings 700 million. Kairu adds that out of Shillings 901 Million planned for road works in this Financial Year, the city has only received Shillings 254 million for the last two quarters, something he notes is failing the planned road works in the new city.

According to Kairu, there is an uproar from the community over the poor state of roads yet his office is incapacitated to do anything. He told OPM officials that besides the budget cuts, the city has no road equipment to enable works on the 323kilometers of roads in the city.

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On the other hand, the officials raised the problem of salary discrepancies as one of the major factors affecting service delivery in local governments. Lokuda said that whereas he appreciates government initiatives in promoting science and technology in the country, the other sectors shouldn’t be undermined for effective service delivery.

Citing the engineering departments at the Uganda National Roads Authority- UNRA and the engineers employed in the local governments, Lokuda said that the salary discrepancies lower the morale of staff working to deliver services to the community.

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Paul Omer, the Soroti City East Division Mayor asked the government to streamline operations, especially with the local governments. He apportioned blame to the accounting officers for the laxity in the implementation of government programs under the guise of being transferable.

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Dr. Julius Okello, the team leader and head of infrastructure development in the OPM delivery unit, said that the budgetary cuts are a result of COVID-19 effects on the economy. Okello, who was leading the team in Soroti was forced to call his senior colleagues to help answer questions raised by the local leaders. 

He also noted that the government is undertaking salary enhancement discussions with the line ministries and departments to have the matter resolved.

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