Realignment of salaries of top officials of government agencies

05Nov 2017
Guardian On Sunday
Realignment of salaries of top officials of government agencies

INCOMING Minister of State (President’s Office – Public Service Management and Good Governance) George Mkuchika is on the warpath, having set in motion a review process of the salary levels and entitlements of top officials in the public service.

The review will focus on ministerial departments and agencies, which means it would include executive authorities and, presumably, public sector commercial entities or the parastatal sector.


Salaries in these agencies have often been dramatic, decided by boards on the basis of their earnings, independently.


This review will in that sense go a long way to unravel and even to repeal the systematic application of public service charters issued around 2003 to 2004 where each section or portion of the public sector sought to adapt to localized expression of globalization as well as it could.


Since the government did not have the money to pay top public officials salaries corresponding to the offices they held when compared to multilateral organisations with whom they constantly worked, it decided to deregulate that sphere of incomes. It was a matter of agency feasibility.


When, for instance, the first director general of Tanroads was appointed, the post was an international one with a wide ‘head hunt,’ and thus when a Ghanaian won in the selection, an international salary of Sh12million was in the bargain.


Later on, of course, the post was localized but the salary wasn’t, and it is even possible was being realigned with ‘best practices’ in other spheres where a similar mix is visible of local officials working with UN personnel, etc.


Aligning salaries with expatriate or UN staff fosters equality with foreign experts and thus a sense of independence since local executives don’t become second class project officials in own country.


If salaries of senior government cadres in ministerial departments and agencies are rescaled to the local framework of civil service cadres and not on international framework of recruiting of project managers, much of project management shall also have to change.

Conditionality attached to World Bank credit that the chief executive position be advertised and competitive applications be received from any quarter, and then the winner earns a UN-level salary (aligned to what similar professionals would be earning in the UN or perhaps some leading member state like the US) has to be rescinded. 

When project money is conditioned to be used that way, it becomes almost of no benefit as it is recycled via salaries of UN staff, while this habit ruins solidarity in the country and develops bad habits in agencies.

Since it is unlikely to get the UN country mission coordinator, noticeably the United Nations Development Program resident representative to accept that UN salaries in Tanzania be paid differently from other countries, the solution shall be to advertise those jobs on Tanzanian pay scales, aligned to the civil service.

It is parastatals that usually called the shots, realigning salaries of its top officials to UN levels because it has expatriate presence and they are supposed to be paid equally. That method is known as levelling up, and it is preferred by bureaucrats, definitely.

The recent measure where negotiators working closely with President John Magufuli have brought about that hugely unlikely step of relocating the head offices of Acacia Mining from London to Dar es Salaam should serve as a pointer.

It is possible to bring the UN to understand that what is being handed to Tanzania is a sum of money that will eventually be repaid by Tanzanian taxpayers. The money must be judiciously used and applicants to run them be paid on our scales.