Uganda Tourism Board chief Steven Asiimwe this week confessed that he could not explain mind-boggling disparities in the salaries of his staff.
The admission, to MPs on Parliament’s committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry, will be seen as a statement on the state of affairs in UTB when Asiimwe took over the helm five months ago.
Leading the interrogation of Asiimwe was Kyegegwa Woman MP Flavia Kabahenda (NRM), the committee chairperson ordered: “Open page 58 which elaborates the salaries being earned by the staff at the tourism board headquarters and when you go there, you will see that salary scales are categorized as tiers from T1-T8, but T2 has three sections.”
As Asiimwe complied, Kabahenda pressed on: “It is the same salary scale, but people are earning differently, others earn Shs 8m, others Shs 5.8m and others Shs 12m. Under salary scale T7, she said, some employees were earning Shs 4.2m, while others got Shs 1.1m. Meanwhile, some people under T8 are paid as little Shs 650,000.
“The disparities are too big, I want to know: what exactly does that mean when people on the same scale earn different amounts of money?” Kabahenda said. “Are people with lower salaries sweepers, drivers or what? Otherwise, I want to conclude that this demotivation alone may break down our marketing and promotion of tourism yet we expect it to begin with the board.”
According to the ministerial policy statement, the salaries for the 19 staff at the board’s headquarters range from Shs 650,000 to Shs 15m per month. Asiimwe, the UTB chief executive officer, is the highest-paid, under T1, followed by John Ssempebwa under T2, at Shs 12m. The statement shows that five staff members are under T2 but earn differently.
For example, Edwin Muzahura and Dorothy Namutebi earn Shs 8m, whereas John Paul Waligo and Margaret Kobusinge earn Shs 5.4m each. Under T7, MPs found the range in the salaries of the eight employees troubling. Solome Nampewo earns Shs 4.2m, whereas colleagues of hers are paid Shs 1.7m a month. The rest of the staff at the board’s headquarters, who are under T8, earn Shs 651,375 each.
In a year, according to the policy statement, the highest-paid officer earns Shs 180m, while the lowest-paid five staffers together earn Shs 7.8m. According to Jamilah Kasita, a human resources manager in Kampala, different people in the same salary scales earning different packages should not be shocking. However, Ms Kasita said, the range between the lowest and highest salaries within the same scale should be “reasonable”.
Asiimwe told MPs that he inherited the inconsistencies.
“Madam Chairperson, these names you see are of people we found employed by the board,” he said. “They didn’t have clear terms of appointments. Even in terms of reference, their job descriptions are very vague,”
He said the new board was in the process of hiring a human resource professional to lead the review of the entire structure, including salaries.
“Because you cannot work with people who are demotivated, poorly paid and have poor terms of reference… so that has got to change,” Asiimwe said.
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