The Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) is perturbed by the staffing woes at the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Data Bank (NAGRC&DB).
Some staff, the committee discovered, have been in acting positions beyond the legally stipulated period while others were unlawfully recruited with staff numbers shooting from the approved 333 to 453.
“The entity is not having the manpower they need; they have juniors who are serving in positions of those interdicted. You have been in court for three years and you do not know how long that case shall take,” said Hon. Joel Ssenyonyi, the COSASE Chairperson.
Ssenyonyi was chairing a meeting in which the committee considered the Auditor General’s Report on NAGRC&DB for the Financial Year 2021/2022 on Wednesday, 23 August 2023.
It was also revealed that 17 managers have over the past three years been relieved of their duties and junior officers appointed in acting capacity.
Citing Section 9 of the Uganda Public Service Standing Orders, he noted that one can only serve in an acting position for up to six months.
“Any period of acting appointment beyond six months shall automatically revert to his or her substantive post unless the appointing authority extends the appointment for another six months, but shall not exceed 12 months” reads Section 9 of the Public Service Standing Orders.
The committee was equally concerned on learning that the organisation has instead opted to hire casual staff to bridge the staffing gap, moreover disregarding a recent circular from the Ministry of Public Service banning recruitment.
“You were not supposed to recruit more staff yet you stated that in the financial year under review you recruited staff, so you ignored the Ministry of Public Service circular?” asked Hon. Richard Gafabusa (NRM, Bwamba County).
Gafabusa further observed: “Your staffing structure approved only 333 staff but now the audit report indicates 453 staff, indicating an excess staffing of 120 staff, how did you get them and how do you pay them?”.
The Executive Director, NAGRIC&DB, Dr Peter Beine and his team appearing before COSASE.
The Executive Director, NAGRC&DB, Dr Peter Beine, said his entity was responding to the growing animal stocks and farms amidst low staffing and chose to hire casual staff.
“We wrote to the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Public Service that we wanted to fill the pending technical positions, we were told it was not possible, so we decided as a board to make a compensation for vacant positions by bringing on more non-technical staff to serve as a trade off with the technical staff,” said Beine.
He revealed that majority of the casual staff were being paid Shs 300,000 per month. “You find that the combined salary of 15 herdsmen equals to the salary of one technical staff,” he said.
The committee observed that the organisation mandated with enhancing commercialisation and productivity of animal breeding activities, cannot be run by support staff and advised Dr Beine to engage the board to take a decision on bridging the gap created by the 17 technical staff currently out of office.
“We are saying the organisation is not operating at its optimal level, you are missing out on the required expertise, we are nudging the board to take a decision, either you replace them and if court makes a favourable ruling you reinstate them, what if the case takes 10 years will you remain operating like this?” asked Ssenyonyi.