The Government should renegotiate terms and benefits of Uganda People’s Defence Forces’ (UPDF) peace keeping mission in Somalia, MPs on the Defence and Internal Affairs committee have advised.
Effective January 2016, the soldiers’ monthly allowances were reportedly reduced from Shs 3.5 million ($1,028) to Shs 2.8 million ($828). Of this, the Ministry of Defence deducts 680,000 ($200) from each officer to cater for preparatory expenses, leaving a total of Shs 2.1 million.
The Defence and Internal Affairs committee recommends that government rejects the new terms and renegotiates with African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) to maintain earlier payments.
Defence Committee chairperson, Benny Namugwanya says that the reduction in pay, demotivates the troops yet they work in risky operations. She further says that the continued delay in payment of salaries to the troops affects the efficiency of their operations.
Army spokesperson Lt Col Paddy Ankunda said soldiers have now gone for four months without salary. Out of the Shs 298 billion owed to the soldier in allowances, only Shs 98 billion has been reportedly paid as of March 2016. The committee has given government three months to come up with a report on the matter.
“Govt should re-examine the terms and conditions relating to AMISOM operations and assess its performance in terms of costs and benefits to the country and report back to parliament within three months after the adaption of this report. Government should engage with UN and other stakeholders to ensure that the allowance for the troops is paid promptly. In addition, government should reject the proposed reduction in allowances of troops as this is way below the risk exposure of our soldiers while in operations”, Namugwanya said.
UPDF has been in operations in Somalia under AMISOM since 2007 to pacify the Horn-of-Africa country which is under attack by Al Shabaab militants. It has the biggest contingent of 6,223 soldiers.
The African Union and United Nations are also yet to pay Uganda about Shs 36 billion ($10 million) in debt as compensation for damage to military equipment used between March 2007 and January 2009.
The committee recommends that government should quantify the economic benefits attributed to the AMISOM operations todate and report to Parliament within three months.