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UPDF 2 INFANTRY DIVISION

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Guidelines for Decentralization of Processing Military Pensions, Gratuities and Survivors’ Benefits to District Local Governments

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Guidelines for Decentralization of Processing Military Pensions, Gratuities and Survivors’ Benefits to District Local Governments

Last updated May 18, 2015

Introduction

Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Defence is implementing various measures aimed at clearing the backlog of pensions and survivor benefits of the Military Veterans. In various Inter-Ministerial meetings on Pension, gratuities and survivors’ benefits held at the Ministry of Defence headquarters, it was observed that the accumulation of the backlog of unpaid pensions, gratuities and survivor benefits, among other factors, was attributed to the fact that the system was centralized.

Under this system, all beneficiaries of terminal benefits had to go to the Ministry of Decence(MOD) or Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) headquarters for the process to begin. This did not only become very expensive for beneficiaries, but also made coordination and information flow difficult leading to a slow pension management process and consequently an accumulation of a backlog of pension/gratuity cases.

As a result of the need to streamline pension processing and clear the outstanding backlog, it was agreed that processing of terminal benefits be decentralized to the district level.

Policy and Legal context

A UPDF Officer or Militant who is released from the Defence Forces or one who dies in the service is entitled to pension and/or gratuity in accordance with the law.

Clause 24 (2) of the UPDF Act requires the Ministry responsible for defence to facilitate the assessment, grant and payment of UPDF pensions and gratuities by the Pensions Authority. This responsibility has been coordinated by the UPDF Chieftaincy of Pensions and Gratuities (CoPG) through the receipt of   applications for pension, gratuities and survivors’ benefits, and assessing them before submission to the Ministry of Public Service for payment.

 The post-service benefits processed by the CoPG included pension and gratuity for the retired/discharged UPDF personnel, survivors’ benefits for the claimants of the deceased officers and militants and of late, ex-gratia payable to former ex-servicemen (or their survivors) of previous regimes as granted by His Excellency the President.

In discharging this responsibility, the dictates of the Constitution should be adhered to by both Ministries of Public Service and Defence. Article 254 (3) of the Constitution of Uganda (1995) states that “payment of pension shall be prompt and regular and easily accessible to pensioners”.

Situational Analysis

Currently, processing of payment of pension, gratuities and survivors’ benefits takes too long as indicated in the various reports on this matter, including the Bitumbika Report of 2009 and recently the Tahunga and The Joint task Force report on restructuring the COPG and Chieftaincy of Policy and Planning (CPP).

The above mentioned delays have partly been attributed to the centralized pension management processes at MOD/UPDF headquarters. The various stakeholders at the centre include the Chief of Pensions and Gratuity (CoPG), Pension Assessment Board (PAB), Directorate of Records and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry.

Centralization of the pensions and gratuity Management has made the processes cumbersome and tedious for the beneficiaries. This has been exacerbated by lack of an established coordination mechanism between the centre and the lower units of the Ministry or other Government administrative units on pension matters.

Objectives of Decentralization

Overall Objective

The overall objective of decentralisation is to ease coordination and access, and streamline processing of Military pensions and gratuities by providing a mechanism within the existing District Local Government structures.

Specific Objectives

The specific objectives include the following:

  • To bring services closer to beneficiaries.
  • To ease access to Pension information for follow-up of submissions at districts;
  • To ease coordination by the zonal pensions officers;
  • To Strengthen linkage with other Government administrative systems on matters of military pensions payment;
  • To minimize fraudulent claims.
  • To ease and expedite the process of clearance and payment of the military pensions.

Principles underlying the Decentralising

The following principles shall guide the decentralisation process for military pensions:

  • Deconcentration; Decentralizing the processing of military pension, gratuity, survivors’ benefits or terminal benefits will bring services closer to the claimants at district level.
  • Transparency; There shall be openness and sharing of information regarding payment of military pensions and gratuities;
  • Timeliness; Timely action in processing military pensions will be emphasised under decentralisation.
  • Flexibility; Decentralized processing of military pensions and gratuities may be customized to take into account peculiar conditions that pertain in a given district.
  • Prioritization; Military pensions and gratuities shall be prioritized through budget provisions.

Scope/Applicability:

The guidelines shall be applicable during the processing of military pensions and gratuities.

Criteria for decentralisation

Decentralization of Military pension processes will follow the current Local Government system in Uganda coordinated at the district level.

The Chief Administrative Officer shall be the principal Focal Point person for processing of military pensions at the District Local Government level.

There shall be 22 UPDF zonal pension officers.