The government dropped a bombshell last week when it announced its plan to dissolve and merge at least 71 State agencies while keeping a few strategic ones.

Many of the functions hitherto carried out by these agencies shall revert to the parent ministries where they had once operated as departments under the direct supervision of the bureaucracy.

As expected, this decision has rattled many feathers, especially of the ‘fat cats’ that have been working in these organisations, earning obscene salaries and attendant benefits to the envy of mainstream public servants and the rest of Ugandans.

Their disbandment is, therefore, expected to save considerable sums of money; preliminary estimates put it at Shs1 trillion a year!
Nonetheless, the clear ostentation in these agencies as well as the attractive saving should not blind us to the pitfalls that may arise out of this radical decision.

To start with, it is important that we revisit the reasons some of these agencies were created and assess whether their failure to achieve their objectives will be cured by their disbandment, or whether specific things need to be done to the ministries to ensure we don’t return to the failures that gave rise to the agencies in the first place.

Second, some of these agencies have been effective in fulfilling their mandate – even though many have been riding on the back of corruption. How do we ensure these achievements are not lost?

This will perhaps be the most fundamental socio-economic reform after the World Bank/IMF sponsored civil service restructuring of the 1990s. There will, therefore, be a lot of tears along the way.

Government must, therefore, prepare the affected well ahead and compensate them adequately for loss of income.

It must also not deliver the blow in one fell swoop! The process must be phased and preferably sector by sector.

Thereafter, there is urgent need to move on the other key areas of waste – namely political representation and administration.

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