Members of the senatorial standing committee on Social Affairs, Human Rights and Petitions yesterday put the ministers for Public Service and Labour, and Health on the spot over failure by public institutions to appraise and subsequently promote civil servants as required by the law.
The two ministers, Judith Uwizeye and her Health counterpart Dr Agnes Binagwaho were appearing before the committee to explain issues related to a petition from an aggrieved former civil servant who spent decades working in the health sector.
The senators raised the concerns as they examined the petition from one Paulin Rwiyamirira, 73, a former secretary of Kibungo Hospital who said he worked for the same institution for 23 years without any promotion until he went into retirement in January this year.
In his official complaint to the Senate, Rwiyamirira said he felt unfairly treated when he was given a paltry Rwf498, 000 in retirement package yet he had spent many years of his working life with the same public institution, without any promotion as required by law.
Senators argued that this case is simply a representative of many similar cases out there, wondering why public institutions failed to adhere to the Prime Minister’s Order that provides guidance on such issues as well as the Law on General Statutes for Rwandan Public Service.
“This is just one among many such cases. Why should people not be promoted as provided for by the law? It is clear that when workers are not appraised and promoted in accordance with the rules, they get affected later on in their career,” said Sen. Jean Nepomuscène Sindikubwabo.
Thérèse Bishagara Kagoyire, the committee chairperson added that; “It is good to have Performance Based Financing (PBF) but again, PBF just like any other bonuses, are not calculated while considering retirement benefits. That is why I suggest that promotion should be considered ahead of bonuses,” she said.
Minister Uwizeye acknowledged the delays in Rwiyamirira’s promotion and promised to look into the matter as well as other similar cases.
“His case is understandable, he served Kibungo Hospital for so long and it seems his retirement bonuses were not in line with the Prime Minister’s Order establishing the procedure of performance appraisal and promotion of public servants,” she admitted.
However, she said that Rwiyamirira’s case may not necessarily reflect the general situation across the public service, reckoning that employees in the health sector are appraised under a special mechanism known as performance-based financing.
Minister Binagwaho, who was also on the defensive told the senators that PBF was initiated to improve social welfare of health workers.
She, however, said restructuring procedures are ongoing in hospitals to reconcile health workers’ performance appraisal procedures with other public servants'.
World Health Organisation defines PBF financing as “a mechanism by which health providers are, at least partially, funded on the basis on their performance”.
PBF it says, can be contrasted with the line-item approach, which finances a health facility through the provision of inputs (e.g. drugs, personnel).
In recent years, Rwanda successfully piloted application of performance-based financing to fast track progress, particularly in the context of the Millennium Development Goals.
Article 31 (grade promotion) of the said Prime Minister’s Order, which came into force in September 2010, states that the horizontal grade promotion occurs when an employee is promoted to a position immediately above their current post.
The employee in question gets a basic salary applied to the grade promotion which they access.
The grade promotion is open to any public servant who has completed three years of service at the same level in Institution of Public Service or, he/she scored marks that place them in appropriate performance group, requiring promotion recognition during the three consecutive years, without setbacks.
The law also indicates that for a public servant to be promoted, they should not have been punished with a second degree disciplinary sanction during the previous three years provided for in the Law on General Statutes for Rwandan Public Service.
“If the conditions mentioned above are not fulfilled, the public servant will be promoted the following year if he/she fulfils the above requirements,” the order states in part.
The law provides that; any public servant who believes that they were unfairly appraised may apply for the review of the score granted to them and the decision made concerning their promotion.
Uwizeye said the government would proceed to address Rwiyamirira’s grievances and any other similar cases. “In his case we’ll use the bonuses provided for under the PBF mechanism to settle the matter.”
And all public servants whose promotion had been delayed will have their concerns addressed over the next eight months, she said.
She said at the moment they have no figures about the exact number of affected employees but her ministry would soon look into the matter to determine the number of those affected.