Masaka, (UG): The Minister of Defence, Hon Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja has revealed that the Defence Ministry which he heads is considering a pay rise for junior officers in the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) in a move aimed at improving their welfare.
Speaking at the UPDF Armoured Brigade’s end-of-year party at Kasijagirwa Army Barracks in Masaka City, Mr Ssempijja who was the chief guest said the lowest ranking cadres in the army will be paid at least sh1m as monthly salary.
The event, attended by civilians, religious leaders, and politicians, saw Ssempijja expressing regret for the delay in implementing salary adjustments, attributing it to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on plans and budgets.
“We were supposed to effect the salary adjustments earlier but the COVI-19 pandemic crisis affected our plans and budget, we have already handled the generals, and the junior officers’ welfare and salary improvement are next on the agenda,” Minister Ssempijja said causing excitement among the soldiers at the spouses.
According to the Minister, salary adjustments are aimed at motivating the UPDF officers and their families to protect the nation and the neighbouring countries effectively. “All our border points are secure save a few isolated gaps, the stability story we are enjoying would have been different if we had a weak army and security. We are sorry for the innocent people who fell victim,” he said.
Ssempijja added several countries facing instability like Somalia, Sudan, and others, are pleading for UPDF protection because of the discipline, professionalism, and Pan-African elements. “Of course, we are considering keeping our troops in peacekeeping missions with or without external support, we also benefit if our neighbours are stable,” he said.
On the issue of retirement packages, Ssempijja noted that the government has designed a special retirement package that will enable those exiting to be happy with their families.
He added that President Museveni and the defence ministry are focusing on training the soldiers to learn to invest wisely in preparation for retirement. He said that the soldiers are encouraged to invest in farming and savings cooperatives.
The UPDF Armoured Brigade commander, Brig. Deus Sande speaking at the same function strongly advised civilians to be vigilant against wrong elements seen in the community. He said the UPDF’s strength is based on being a pro-people army adding that those threatening national security will not be handled with kid gloves.
“I do not wish anyone to fall in the nets of our operations, we are human beings who do not want war to come here today,” Bring Deus said, adding that the nation has registered significant achievement, especially in infrastructure investments that should be protected.
The Buganda Kingdom representative for Buddu, Pokino Jude Muleke, warned security officers to keep discipline, saying in verbatim; “We have some security officers who behave in a very unprofessional way. We used to see such errant officers in the past regimes.”
Juliet Kabasekye, the leader of UPDF spouses, thanked President Museveni for initiating a special support fund for their groups that enables them to access loans at a meager interest rate of 5%.
She said the wives of the soldiers still need training and sensitization on development projects and economic empowerment. The former Masaka woman MP, Babirye Kabanda (DP), promised to give bursaries to children of UPDF officers who excel in academics at primary and secondary levels.
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