COSASE queries UWEC lifeline extension despite merger

The Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) has queried the move by the Minister for Public Service, Hon. Wilson Muruli Mukasa to extend the operational mandate of Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC).

The functions of the UWEC are supposed to be merged into the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) following the presidential assent to the Uganda Wildlife (Amendment) Act, 2024 which incorporated it as a directorate.
The Bill was assented to by President Yoweri Museveni on 14 June 2024, implying that UWEC is supposed to be under UWA effective 01 July 2024.

Bukimbiri County Member of Parliament, Hon. Eddie Kwizera, put UWEC’s Executive Director, Dr James Musinguzi to task as to why the centre is still operating under its own jurisdiction despite the merger.

Musinguzi said that the Minister for Public Service wrote a letter extending the operations of UWEC for another three months.

Committee Chairperson, Hon. Medard Sseggona questioned the minister’s action saying it went against the process executed by Parliament in scrutinising and approving the mergers of entities through a host of rationalisation Bills.
“We are wondering where the minister will get the money to pay them and where he got the authority to review or vary the decision of Parliament without any consultation on the matter,” said Seggona.
He alluded to the processing of the rationalisation Bills when the House tasked the Public Service Minister on their operationalisation.
“Remember Hon. Muruli Mukasa was grilled in Parliament on this and he gave us assurance that by 30 June 2024, all will be sorted to kick off the rationalisation of these entities,” Sseggona added.

AUDIO Sseggona

He said the minister will be invited to explain the move to vary Parliament’s decision by extending UWEC’s operationalisation and where the funding for the centre for the extended period will be sourced from.
“It confirms that government was not prepared for the rationalisation and they are coming back with more proposals,” Sseggona said.

Musinguzi told the Committee that despite the growth of UWEC’s budget from Shs9.2 billion in financial year 2022/2023 to Shs21 billion in the Financial Year 2023/2024, the resources still remain inadequate.
“There is need to increase UWEC’s operational budget by Shs6 billion to cater for welfare, health and nutrition of the increased number of animals at the centre. An emergency fund can also be set up to take care of emergencies like animal rescue,” Musinguzi said.