Ministerial Clash Over Youth Council Merger: Debate on Unemployment Intensifies

In a heated session before the House Committee on Gender, Labour, and Social Development, the Minister of State for Finance (General Duties), Henry Musasizi, defended the controversial merger of special interest group secretariats. The move, challenged by the National Youth Council (NYC), unified various interest group secretariats under one umbrella, a decision met with fervent opposition.

Musasizi, while testifying on Tuesday, 17 October 2023, maintained that the merger aimed to streamline administrative costs without affecting funding for the groups. He contested the NYC’s claims that the merger would exacerbate youth unemployment, stating that certain agencies were mere financial drains and rationalization was essential.

NYC representatives argued their case, asserting that reducing the number of Members of Parliament representing youth and special interest groups could be a more effective cost-cutting measure. They expressed concerns about the potential rise in unemployment due to the merger, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive social and economic impact assessment.

In response to these concerns, Hon. Flavia Kabahenda, Chairperson of the Committee, questioned the government’s strategies for handling the aftermath of layoffs and the potential lack of supervision due to reduced secretariat sizes. She underscored the necessity of meticulous planning to prevent future budget absorption issues.

Hon. Rosemary Nyakikongoro echoed these sentiments, raising concerns about the potential deficit in supervision following staff reductions. She questioned the wisdom of decreasing secretariat sizes while maintaining the same budget for programs, emphasizing the risk of budget reduction accusations in the future.

Despite the committee’s probing, Musasizi maintained the government’s stance. He claimed the move would save a significant sum, estimated at Shs300 billion, in administrative costs. The debate remains contentious, sparking discussions about the delicate balance between cost efficiency and unemployment concerns among marginalized groups. The fate of the merger now hangs in the balance, awaiting further deliberation and decision.