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Govt to public servants: No national IDs, no pay

Henry Kajura, the minister of public service

Public servants who do not have national identity cards by July 1, 2016 will have their names removed from the government payroll, The Observer has learnt.

The revelation is contained in a series of internal memos circulated to all ministries heads of departments, as well as chief administrative officers and town clerks across the country.

In the memo written by J.G. Walala, the acting permanent secretary in the ministry of Local Government, the exercise is being done to weed out ghost workers from the government payroll.

“This is to inform you that the ministries of Public Service and Finance, Planning and Economic Development, in collaboration with the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) are in the process of integrating the Uganda government payroll with the national identity card data,” he noted.

“Accordingly, it is now mandatory for all government employees to have national identity cards. Government employees without national identity cards will be deleted from the payroll.”

Walala then asked all public servants under his jurisdiction to “urgently” submit copies of their national identity cards to the human resource office not later than April 15, 2016. However, a source in government said the exercise will continue until July 1.

When contacted, Esau Ekachelan, the Arua chief administrative officer, confirmed to The Observer that he had received the communication and had broadcast it to all public servants in his jurisdiction.

“Those who missed should go to Kololo for validation,” he said. “And if you don’t have a national ID, you have an opportunity to register for it. They said they have given it [to be done in] three months – April, May and June; that whoever has not gone for validation by then may end up not being on the payroll.”

However, some public servants, especially those in upcountry stations, are unhappy that the government has asked those without national identity cards to travel all the way to the NIRA headquarters in Kololo, Kampala, to process their cards. Those who spoke to The Observer complained that the government has heaped an unnecessary expenditure on them.

But Pamela Ankunda, the ministry of Internal Affairs spokesperson, allayed their fears, saying the registration exercises are still ongoing at the respective district headquarters.

“They will [have to] go to their districts. Registration is an unending process. Kampala is only a headquarter,” she said. “All cards are verified, printed and sent to districts for issuance. Citizens need to simply go and pick them.”

For several years, the government has grappled with the inflation of government employee records that include non-existent workers, often referred to as “ghost employees.”

In June 2014, an audit by the auditor general found 8,000 ‘ghost employees’ on the government payroll, slightly less than the 9,000 found a year earlier. In a bid to get rid of ghost employees, the government said two years ago that it was upgrading its salary payment system from the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS) to Integrated Finance Management System (IFMS).

However, the new system, which required employees to be identified through unique “supplier numbers,” hit a snag when it also eliminated genuine public servants from the payroll in cases where they had names similar to those who had already been allotted supplier numbers.

The confusion resulted in many public servants missing their salaries for several months. The government is now attempting a further clean-up of its payroll using national identity card data.

hobenon@observer.ug

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