VETERAN AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT
Definition of the Veteran
A military veteran is any Ugandan who rendered military services to any of the successive Ugandan government and liberation armies which were involved on all sides of Uganda’s liberation wars: has completed his or her military service and no longer performs active military duties or is deceased and has not been dishonorably discharged from military services of Uganda. These statutory Armies referred to include : Kings African Rifle( KAR),Uganda Rifles ( UR),Uganda Army(UA),Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA),National Residence Army (NRA),Uganda Peoples Defence Forces ( UPDF).
Services and benefits to military Veterans
- Military pensions and survivors benefits
- Free access to military healthy facilities
- Skills training and education support
- Job placement
- Burial support
- Access to the services of the Wazalendo SACCO and Defence forces
A minister of state for Defence in-charge of Veteran Affairs.
Operational Head/Inspector General
Departments of military veterans
- Directorate of Planning, monitoring and evaluation.
- Directorate o intelligence and security
- Directorate of Political Education
- Directorate of management information systems
- Directorate of Human Resource Management
- Directorate of Finance
THE MANDATE OF THE CHIEFTAINCY OF PENSION AND GRATUITIES (COPG)
The mandate of the Chieftaincy of Pensions and Gratuity (COPG) is to process Pensions and Gratuity for UPDF Officers and Militants.
The Mission of COPG is “to process terminal benefits to all deserving beneficiaries as prescribed by law to replace the loss of Income created by either death or retirement of the UPDF officers and militants.”
The objectives of COPG are:
Educating serving Officers and Militants of UPDF about their terminal benefits and procedures to get them upon retirement or death.
Processing of terminal benefits for the deserving beneficiaries as prescribed by law.
Budgeting for the Pensions and Gratuity for those to be retired personnel.
Facilitating the Pensions authority in Assessment, grant and payment of the Pensions and Gratuity to beneficiaries.
Background for Decentralisation of Military Pension Process
A UPDF Officer or Militant who is discharged from the Defence Forces or one who dies in the service is entitled to pension and/or gratuity in accordance with the law. The processing of these benefits has been centrally coordinated by the UPDF Chieftaincy of Pensions and Gratuities (COPG).
In essence, all claimants have been coming to the Ministry of Defence/UPDF General headquarters for the process to begin. The system proved very expensive made coordination and information flow difficult leading to a slow pension management process. This culminated into accumulation of a backlog of pension/gratuity cases.
Currently, the Ministry of Defence is instituting various initiatives aimed at streamlining pension processing and clearing the backlog.
Guidelines for Decentralization of Processing Military Pensions, Gratuities and Survivors’ Benefits to District Local Governments Last updated May 18, 2015
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”.
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
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.
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.
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.
Procedure for Processing Military Pensions at The District Level
Submissions of Cases to the CAO
The Chief of Pensions and Gratuities in liaison with the Director of Records of the UPDF will summarise the mandatory information of a military veteran/ claimant on Pensions form PSF 18 or 20 (attached as annex II) as appropriate, open a file with other required information.
The COPG shall then pass the file on to the Zonal Pensions Officer requesting the Zonal Pensions Officer for completion of the file/provision of required information.
The Zonal Pensions Officer shall then verify the information given and if the information from COPG is consistent, the Zonal Pensions officer shall send the file to the CAO. If there are gaps that need clarification, the Zonal Pensions Officer, shall contact the COPG to clarify the information in the file and once satisfied he/she will then submit the file to the CAO.
The CAO shall decide how the gaps can be filled. If there is need to contact a claimant for more information/documents, the CAO will use his/her administrative channels to trace the claimant.
In case there is a dispute over the estate of the deceased officer/militant, the CAO shall refer the matter to the LC III court to resolve the conflict and issue an Estate form.
Once the LCIII Court awards an Estate Form, the form shall be sent to the CAO who shall sanction the file as complete and hand the file back to the Zonal Pensions Officer for onward submission to the COPG for further action.
A claimant may also initiate the process by contacting the CAO to process the Pension/Survivor Benefits. In this case, the CAO and the Zonal Pensions Officer shall verify and authenticate all the records submitted and if they are satisfied, the Zonal Pensions Officer shall submit the file to the COPG for further action. If the CAO and the Zonal Pensions officer are not satisfied, the same process outlined above shall be followed until the file is complete and submitted for processing by the COPG or sent for investigation by the Uganda Police in case of suspected fraud.
The information required to make the file complete shall include the following.
The file for Veterans who are still alive shall have the following:
- Discharge certificate and in case of loss of the certificate, a police report to secure
- a certificate in lieu.
- Pension form NS7.
- Appointment letter,
- Last pay slip
The file for deceased veterans shall have the following:
- Discharge certificate;
- Death certificate;
- Estate form filled by the LCIII court;
- Pension form NS 18&20.
The file for Survivor benefits shall have the following:
- Death certificate;
- Estate Form filled by the LCIII court;
- Pensions form NS7; and
- Copy of the Identity card for the claimant.
The file for Ex-gratia payment shall have the following:
- Living Officer or Militant.
- UPDF Ex-gratia Form; and
- Identity card.
- Claimant for the deceased Ex-combatants excluding WW2:
- UPDF Ex-gratia Form;
- Estate Form filled by the LCIII court; and
- Identity card for the claimant.
After completing the file by the CAO, the Zonal Pensions Officer will formally send back the file to PS/MOD for processing payment and further action.
Institutional Arrangements and Coordination
|INSTITUTION||ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES|
|Ministry of Defence||
|Ministry of Finance Planning and economic Development||
|Ministry of Public Service||
|Ministry of Local Government||
Information, Education and Communication
All serving officers and militants shall be educated on the processes and requirements for military pensions. In order to clear the current backlog, general sensitisation of beneficiaries in all districts is an imperative. This will enable the beneficiaries to know about the new strategy of decentralisation and the required documents for processing terminal benefits. CAOs and the Zonal Pension Officers shall be trained on matters of processing terminal benefits for the discharged and deceased personnel of UPDF. The Ministry of Defence through the Inter-Ministerial and Technical committees shall develop and implement a comprehensive information Education and communication programme in respect of the decentralized process.
Monitoring and Evaluation Framework
The Ministry of Defence, through the Chieftaincy of Pensions and Gratuities has developed monitoring indices and format for administration of the decentralised military pension processes. The implementation of these processes and guidelines will be monitored through daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annual and annual reports.
The implementation of these guidelines will be as follows:
|a||Communication to the PS/MOLG requesting him to issue the circular with the guidelines to CAOs||30th June 2014||PS/MOD|
|b||Appointment of Zonal Pensions Officers and issuance out a circular with the guidelines to all Units.||10th July 2014||CDF|
|c||PS/MOLG issues circular with guidelines to CAOs||1st July 2014||PS/MOLG|
|d||Sensitisation of all stakeholders about the new initiative regarding matters of processing the terminal benefits for the discharged and deceased eligible military personnel.||15th – 16th July 2014||COPG|
|e||Operationalization of the decentralised system||1st July 2014||PS/MoD and PS/MOLG|