Sunday, September 18, 2011

The colonialists paid better!

Uganda was governed by British colonialists for almost a century. Casual wisdom would suppose that the colonialists had more income inequality than Museveni. Sorry; look again: Just before independence in 1962, the office cleaner, the porter – the lowest government employee – was earning Shs150. Excluding the governor, the highest-paid employee got around Shs6,000. Professors, medical consultants, ministers, permanent secretaries, district commissioners, boarding secondary school headmasters; all those senior people (Ugandans or white expatriates) were in the relatively narrow bracket between Shs2,500 and Shs6,000. Full primary (P6) school teachers got about Shs400. University graduates in teaching and most other government jobs started at around Sh1,300. A doctor got Sh1,700. All annual increments were predictable.
Let us compute: The highest official (Shs6,000) got only 40 times as much as the porter (Sh150), and less than five times as much as a fresh university graduate (Sh1,300).

Under Museveni, the lowest office attendant gets about Shs150,000. A primary school teacher gets Shs260,000, and a fresh university graduate in teaching or mainstream civil service gets about Shs450,000. A fresh doctor gets about Shs600,000. Up to that point, the ratios are close to the colonial model. But above Shs2 million, salaries have become wildly arbitrary. With Shs30 or 40 million per month, each of the best-paid government officials hauls away 200 times as much as the lowly officer gets in his slave pay packet. This has far-reaching socio-political implications; because, however packaged or disguised, the wealth being dished out comes from the collective effort of our people. Glancing at the colonial salary ratio of fourty-to-one, the departed British governors must be smiling in their graves.

Allan Tacca
From here

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