Makerere University

Makerere University

The government will give a supplementary budget of Shs800 million to Makerere University following discussions after the university closed last year for a month.

While addressing the general assembly for both academic, support and administrative staff, Dr Tanga Odoi, the chairperson, told members last week that government was “not going to honour their demands soon” but had accepted to contribute Shs1.6 billion annually to Shs9.2 billion the university pays to staff as top-up allowances.

He explained that because the current financial year was midway, government would release Shs800 million in February as supplementary budget and Shs1.6 billion in the next financial year.

Change of strategy
“We have complained and closed the university. We need to change strategy. Salary change will not come tomorrow. We asked a road map to Shs8 million and Mr Keith Muhakanizi, deputy secretary to the treasury, asked us to go back to the President because that was out of his mandate,” Dr Tanga told hundreds of lecturers.
But the association members accused the executive of being compromised and not pushing for salary change, one of the reasons the lecturers went on strike in September last year.

“How comfortable are you with a boardroom meeting at Embassy House (the building that houses Ministry of Education offices) which didn’t even involve those who do the actual work? We must be careful. We must be falling into a trap of these inter-ministerial meetings,” said Dr Umar Kakumba, the dean School of Business.
To back Dr Kakumba, Prof. Steven Nyanzi, the head of the Chemistry Department, warned that what the group should focus on is a salary change but not top-up allowances in order to mitigate the brain drain that the institution has suffered in the past years.

Payments
But Dr Tanga insisted, saying: “Give me a breathing space for me to talk because even if you asked me to bring a dog with a horn, I will not get it. I am trying to go there (to President) but we will not be held at ransom because there are some things that the government has worked on.”

The government has paid Shs11.7 billion owed to the 90-year-old institution by National Insurance Cooperation with the last balance ofShs5 billion expected to be paid in April.

Other things that the lecturers wanted government to do was to take up the university’s 100 per cent wage bill but government has declined, arguing that there is no money.

Nonetheless, the university will benefit from the Shs250 billion government has allocated to increase salaries of public servants next financial year, however, negligible.

Although the lecturers promised not to go on strike this semester, they have vowed to fight on until their salaries are revised to see a professor currently earning Shs3 million before tax at least get Shs8 million.
What remains is to see the new tactics that Dr Tanga promised to use to woo government into paying them the money.

By PATIENCE AHIMBISIBWE, Daily Monitor

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