By Jane Nambi
Experts have come out to show that government actually has the money to effect the 20% teachers’ pay rise.
Government had previously said that they do not have the money to effect the 20% pay rise which would total up to sh142 billion if proved. The Parliamentary Budget committee managed to find sh68 billion only for the said purpose and now experts say that there are extra monies which could top the money to reach the mark of effecting the salary increment.
Dr Lawrence Bategeka, from the Economic Policy Research Center at Makerere University, said government could raise billions of shillings if it slashed its annual expenditure on allowances, and other non-essential areas like workshops and seminars. “This is tricky but if it’s a priority, then you look around to find resources after all, it’s one of the proposals guiding the ministry of Finance in regard to proper resource allocation,” he said.
According to the financial budget 2013/2014, at least Shs 572bn will go to allowances, workshops and seminars. In her 2011/12 budget speech, Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka pledged to cut spending on advertisement by 50 per cent, workshops and seminars by 30 per cent, and to freeze the purchase of vehicles, a proposal that was clearly not put to practice.
In her second budget of 2012/13, she explained that to improve service delivery, the same actions would be emphasized. “Continued implementation of measures to eliminate inefficiency and waste in public expenditure by minimizing allocations to consumptive areas such as allowances, printing, workshops and seminars,” read point seven of Kiwanuka’s measures. “They have all along said this [reduction in consumptive expenditure] to be a measure. Why not utilize it since there is a need?” says Bategeka.
He also went ahead and pointed out that the ministry of Education could be more frugal arguing that resource reallocation in the Education sector can be exploited to meet the teachers’ demands.“The ministry has this year been given over Shs 1.3 trillion but you will realize that most of the allocations are not a priority compared to the teachers’ demand. So, the ministry can cut Shs 136bn from the sector,” he said.
In addition to this, he argues that the ministry can negotiate with donors since at least 80 per cent of the development budget is donor-funded. “I know that external funding is always conditional but it also depends on how you present your priorities. So, I think that they can present the teachers pay rise as a priority. It serves no purpose building more schools that will not offer quality output,” he said.