In his New Year address, President Museveni repeated previous claims that he is sacrificing a lot in serving Ugandans. A look at official documents, however, shows that the country pays dearly to keep him around, write ALON MWESIGWA and BAKER BATTE LULE.
“What material benefit do I get from being involved in government? In the last 52 years, I have either been working for no pay or for little pay. Maybe those people talking mean ‘greedy’ for sacrifice,” Museveni said.
Budgetary allocations for the presidency show considerable expenditures compared to other government departments. State House in 2016/17 spent Shs 232.4 billion to facilitate the president, his activities and family, according to the 2017/18 ministerial policy statement for the presidency.
The vice president and his family, who are also covered under vote 002, were facilitated with Shs 6.9 billion. State House spent Shs 257.2 billion last financial year on the president and vice president.
The figure dropped to Shs 245.5 billion this year but will grow to Shs 265.3 billion in 2018/19 and Shs 322bn in 2019/20, according to the National Budget Framework Paper for 2018/19 – 2022/23.
However, State House’s budget is below agriculture’s Shs 828.5bn; Health’s Shs 1.8 trillion but above trade and tourism’s (the country’s top foreign exchange earner) Shs 116.6bn and science and technology at Shs 71.9bn.
On Monday, Senior Presidential Press Secretary Don Wanyama declined an interview on Museveni’s salary but referred this newspaper to the ministry of Public Service.
However, Frank Tumwebaze, former minister for the Presidency and now minister for Information, Communications and Technology, said yesterday that Museveni has been earning Shs 3.6m per month for a long time.
“The president was [on New Year’s eve] answering those insulting him that he was here for personal benefit. Someone seeking personal benefit doesn’t put their life on the line,” Tumwebaze said. “Unlike other political leaders who earn allowances when they travel abroad, he doesn’t earn any. To him, it is more of a calling...”
The minister added: “Ideally, according to public service rules, he would be entitled to a holiday. He has never taken any, apart from the time he goes to his farm. The question is at what cost we pay him. You don’t count money given to helpers like him.”
Tumwebaze said what is allocated to the Presidency – State House and Office of the President – are institutionalized benefits that will remain even after Museveni has left.
State House is largely an institution that exists to facilitate the presidency to perform its constitutional and administrative responsibilities, and is, therefore, not restricted to merely catering for the personal welfare of the president, vice president and their immediate families.
Hebert Okworo Ariko, the Soroti municipality MP who is also shadow minister for Public Service and Presidency, told The Observer that whereas the president’s actual salary maybe low, the aggregate remuneration of the presidency is more than any other office’s in this country.
“Regardless of budgetary limitations, the presidential facilitations must be given. So, he is not the person to look to salary to survive [like] other public servants where their supposed compensation is consolidated in salary, housing and domestic servants, among others,” Ariko said.
The policy statement says: “At least 95 per cent of all logistical support, welfare and security equipment [were] provided to the president and his family,” at a cost of Shs 72bn in 2016/17 financial year.
To mobilise four regions for peace, transformation and prosperity for all, the president hosted 60 delegates from several districts at a cost of Shs 29bn in the last financial year.
The president visited 20 countries, hosted 15 heads of state, and attended 18 regional and international meetings at a cost of Shs 15.7bn. He also attended six international trade meetings, commissioned new investments, and mobilised an unspecified number of local and international investors. The country spent Shs 5.9bn on this.
Museveni is recorded to have attended 72 community functions, met 80 per cent of formal pledges made and paid school fees, all tallied at Shs 78.1bn.
Other budget lines include special meals and drinks (Shs 3bn), welfare and entertainment (Shs 3bn). In 2016/17, Shs 970m was spent on refurbishing State House Entebbe and routine maintenance in all residential and office buildings.
At least 40 support vehicles were bought. Servicing and annual maintenance of the presidential jet and helicopter took Shs 11.4bn. Office and residential furniture was bought for Shs 900m.
There was also classified expenditure under logistical support amounting to Shs 38.7bn.