The newly appointed Permanent Secretary and Secretary to Treasury in the Ministry of Finance Ramathan Ggoobi has reassured the staff of the Ministry of Finance and other government departments that they will not lose jobs because of his appointment.
Ggoobi, who was appointed by President Yoweri Museveni last month, officially assumed office on Wednesday August 18, succeeding long-serving Permanent Secretary Keith Muhakanizi who has been ill for some time.
Ggoobi, who was an academic teaching economics at Makerere University Business School (MUBS) before his appointment, asked for cooperation from staff and the political leadership of the Ministry to turn around Uganda’s economy from the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was during the official handover ceremony of the office of the PS/ST this week at the Ministry of Finance in Kampala.
The Deputy PS/ST Patrick Ocailap, who has been acting as PS/ST for a period of nine months since Muhakanizi was taken out of the country for treatment, handed over the office to the new PS.
Ggoobi’s appointment had come against fear that not being a career economist in the ministry, coupled with his previous calls for reforms in economic management, somehow spelt doom for staff.
But on Wednesday, the new PS sought to allay those fears and noted that he is a team player and a hard worker who appreciates and cherishes the dynamism of the largely young staff of the Ministry.
In a very humble tone, PS Ggoobi told his political supervisors, led by Minister Matia Kasaija, and the senior technical team of the Ministry, that he has come to work not to fight anyone. He also expressed readiness to take on the mantle of leading the team whose job is critical to the functioning and success of the NRM government.
“I want to allay the anxiety around. I don’t know how to fight. I know how to work. I sleep very few hours in my life. I want to encourage all officers of this ministry to be assured that we’re going to work together well. If there are efficiency gains that we have to make, we shall make them as a team. I don’t work with cliques. I will very gladly play my part as a leader and I wish everyone a good time,” Ggoobi said.
Ggoobi expressed gratitude to President Museveni for entrusting him with the responsibility to lead the technical team to direct the economic policy to recover the economy from the pandemic to its pre-pandemic status. He also expressed readiness to take on the job with the seriousness it demands, in order to propel Uganda to the state of socioeconomic transformation characterized with what he called better paying jobs and wealth creation for the people of Uganda.
“I am taking on this gigantic responsibility with full knowledge that like many other young nations, Uganda’s main challenge today is to build a sound economy and transform our society that is still largely pre-industrialist into a modern nation,” said Ggoobi.
Ggoobi also paid tribute to his predecessor as well as Bank of Uganda Governor Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, who was also a PS in the same ministry, as the grandparents of Uganda’s modern economy.
“We’re better off today because of the reforms they crafted and the service they rendered,” said Ggoobi.
Ggoobi received words of support from Minister Kasaija who is also the head of the Treasury, the junior ministers, his deputy Ocailap that they are ready to render him all the support he needs to achieve the government’s transformation agenda and implementing the NRM economic plan.
He revealed that the outgoing PS Muhakanizi offered him invaluable guidance and assurance to support him in his new and very important role as PS/ST of the Ministry of Finance.
To facilitate smooth transition into his new role as well as the functioning of the Ministry of Finance, Ggoobi has undergone a number of induction meetings led by DST Ocailap over the past couple of days.
Minister Kasaija further allayed fears that Ggoobi is inexperienced and too new to the process of economic policy formulation. He said he has interacted with him on several fora, as an expert, and in cabinet as a technical person.
DST Ocailap also noted that he worked with Ggoobi while conducting a number of research studies under Makerere University Economic Policy Research Institute.
The PS/ST is one of the most important, sensitive and vast portfolios in Uganda’s public service bureaucracy.
From formulating economic policy of government, leading the budget formulation exercise, to working with the financial sector through the central bank and other financial institutions like NSSF, Uganda Development Bank, Housing Finance, among others, the PS/ST’s influence is felt by almost every sector of the economy.
The task facing Ggoobi is made even more difficult by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly generalized economic slowdown and hence low tax revenue, but also the country’s debt situation which shows that Uganda cannot continue to borrow without expanding its revenue mobilization capacity.
As Deputy Finance Minister Amos Lugoloobi explained, Uganda has hit her debt ceiling following the acquisition of major loans from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for stimulus spending to revive the economy.