Legislators on the Parliament’s Committee on State Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) have raised concern at the mess plaguing operations at Uganda Airlines that was revived in 2019.
The rot includes irregular appointment of staff and a non-uniform salary structure for staff executing work of the same level. Similarly, top bosses at the national carrier are accused of allegedly allotting themselves high salaries despite the carrier fetching no dividends since inception.
As it appeared to answer to queries raised in the Auditor General’s Report of Financial Year 2020/2021, the Uganda Airlines leadership revealed that the Chief Executive Officer, Ms Jenifer Bamuturaki, earns Shs87m, a figure that was revised down from Shs126m that the then acting CEO, Mr Cornwell Muleya, earned.
Yesterday’s session was the commencement of a process to find remedies to the alleged rot plaguing Uganda Airlines.
As he referred to a detailed list of salaries bagged by top guns at the national carrier, the committee chairperson, Mr Joel Ssenyonyi (NUP, Nakawa West), tasked the leadership to explain the genesis of salary disparities.
Mr Ssenyonyi showed that the entity has the “director of maintenance, Mr Ephraim Bagenda, earning Shs80 million per month.”
The same list shows that the director operations earns Shs47m, director of commercial Shs40m and director of finance Shs40m.
The manager of engineering and planning earns Shs28.8m, manager of ground operations earns Shs28m, the managers of cargo, sales and marketing, and IT earn Shs15m each.
This publication was, however, unable to access a copy of the document, as it is a reserve of Parliament, but similar queries are raised by the Auditor General’s report, whose contents are being probed by the same committee and the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC).
Captains under the carrier are also not paid equally as there are two captains paid Shs65 million each while others are paid Shs38 million monthly.
“How do you guys come to this conclusion? Do you people just sleep and come up with these figures?” Mr Ssenyonyi wondered.
The Auditor General’s report also discovered that Uganda Airlines operates without a defined staff structure, something that creates room for glitches.
The director of flight operations, Mr Lukman Ndusa, said the variations are due to the two tiers of flight operations managed by the Uganda Airlines.
Mr Ndusa said lower salaries were paid to captains hired to fly the CRJ900 Bombardiers while higher pay is given to those in the Airbus category.
He said this was done to attract quality pilots and staff who were allegedly sourced from the regional competitors from Rwanda, Singapore, Brazil and England.
“The Airbus as an industry is considered superior by way of operation. We also protect the staff of Airbus against any other snatching from competitors. We have a very good competitor down here, RwandAir. I got six pilots from there,” Mr Ndusa said.
He added: “These people are getting good money. So at that time we had to work out a salary scale which would attract foreigners who we needed at that time. We didn’t have any Ugandan who could fly the Airbus except for two. One was in Qatar and the other was in Vietnam and they were earning $13,000 per month.”
In a rejoinder, Ms Barbra Namugambe, a board member of Uganda Airlines, said the airlines’ board is also “uncomfortable with some of these salaries,” adding that the administration has since embarked on a “manpower audit”.
The same committee also established that the requisite recruitment process was altered to hire Ms Bamuturaki as CEO.
Mr Herbert Kamuntu, who in yesterday’s session represented the chairperson of the Uganda Airlines board, said the hiring process was halted after the instructions were issued to have her appointed as the CEO.
Mr Kamuntu said Ms Bamuturaki was then hired on the directive from the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Works and Transport, Mr Bageya Waiswa. Mr Waiswa is said to have acted on President Museveni’s orders.
Title and Salary
Director Maintenance Manager and Accountable Shs80m
Director Flight Operations Shs 47m
Director Commercial Shs 40m
Director Finance Shs40m
Director Operations Shs47m
Director Commercial Shs40m
Manager engineering and planning Shs28.8m
Manager Cargo Shs15m
IT manager Shs15m
Sales, marketing Manager Shs15m