By Owen Baluku Alton
Ministry of public service and the Estonian Delegation have commended the Kasese Municipal One Stop Service Center (OSSC) for being a model in service delivery in Uganda.
The officials were on Thursday speaking during a meeting at Central Division Hall in Kasese town where they were accompanied by officials from other service Uganda one stop service centers from Gulu, Jinja, Entebbe and Mbale.
Sarah Lwanga Nuliuti, the Principal Management Analyst from Ministry of public service said that the team from different pilot centers came to Kasese to benchmark because as one of the five pilot centers, Kasese has moved faster than any other service Uganda one stop centers.
“The team for different Pilot centers including Entebbe, Ministry of Public Service, Jinja, Gulu and Mbale came to Kasese for benchmarking simply because it is one of the centers that is moving faster than any other apart from the ministry of public service that was launched in January 2019.” Sarah stressed.
She says other pilot centers have not been moving at the same pace with Kasese due to political, infrastructural and financial challenges.
However, she added that though Kasese faces the same challenges, it is moving faster and is being looked at the model service Uganda center.
“That’s why other centers came here to benchmark, share experiences of the story of Kasese, learn from them, but also ensure that there are those good practices that they will learn from the model one stop service center and take back to their service Uganda centers.” Sarah added.
Lwanga underscores the importance of bench-marking as a move that helps in interaction, to share knowledge and understanding the concept of OSSCs even further.
Sarah, who is a team member on coordination for the establishment and operationalisation of service Uganda, said Municipal officers such as town clerks, human resource officers, CDOs, can do strategy work in their offices but that routine work like inquiries and filling of forms can be handled at the service center without requiring the departmental heads.
Kalle Sepp, the Head of Estonian Delegation says it is a great opportunity for Estonia to cooperate with Uganda.
He announced that the project that started in 2016 will come to an end on 31 June 2019 after being a success and that the Foreign Affairs ministry of Estonia did a good job in funding it.
He calls on OSSCs to emphasize good customer care services noting that in Tallin, Estonia, it is one of the best ways of providing services to the public.
Sepp notes that about 2000 different services are provided to the people, while 573 other services are also provided via the internet (ICT) so that youth and the elderly can easily receive them conveniently.
He notes that taxes are completed online in less than 5 minutes, and that 99 percent of the Estonia’s public services are available on the web 24 hours a day and nearly one-third of citizens vote via the internet.
Asked about renewal of the project so that other districts can also benefit, Mr. Sepp noted that the project will be terminated first before they think of the second phase. However, he says it will depend on whether Estonia’s ministry of foreign affairs agrees to continue funding the project.
He revealed that Lira, Arua, Hoima and Rukungiri municipalities are also requesting for one stop service centers.
Sarah Lwanga, however noted that renewal of the project will depend on a memorandum of understanding between the permanent secretaries from ministry of public service, ICT and Estonian government and look at the lifespan of the project.
Lwanga reveals that government will push for other projects as a reform and government will also continue supporting and establishing other centers in a phased manner so that services can reach its people.
Another member of the Estonian Technical Committee for the operationalisation of OSSCs in Uganda said “it takes a lot of team work, commitment, trust and a supporting shoulder to move on together towards one come goal, which is not competition but offering a service for ones’ country.”
She urges staff at OSSCs to be the face of public service and asked them to handle difficult customers with care and in a creative way so that they don’t go away. Improve customer satisfaction by delivering services based on customer needs, expectations and preferences.
The Municipal Commercial Officer, Kasese, Mr. Godfrey Bwambale who is the center team leader said they offer a comprehensive range of services at the OSSC that include payroll management, distribution of payslips, payroll updates, salary complaints, processing building plans, operation wealth creation, URA, cooperatives/SACCO formation, Uganda registration services bureau and NSSF services.
Mr. Bwambale says the service center partners with ministry of public service and Estonian government that are useful in ensuring that the center provides services.
“it is a reform that aims at transferring service delivery in public service through establishing of service Uganda centers as a response to the current increased demand world over to focus on government reforms on citizen-centric delivery centers”. Bwambale noted.
He also added that the center has reduced time they used in travel to FortPortal in Kabarole district from 75KM or 3 hours to just a few minutes.
The Kasese Municipal deputy mayor, Mr Peter Baluku who represented the mayor his worship Godfrey Kabbyanga Baluku said nearness of the OSSC is helping public to get timely service provision because all services are accessed under one roof.
While closing the meeting, Mr Peter Baluku thanked ministry of public service for selecting Kasese as a regional center.
“I was supposed to travel to Fort Portal to get a TIN Number but got the service here in Kasese………..and it is really helping many people.” Baluku said
Baluku who encouraged staff at OSSCs to have good customer care, called on all centers in the country to learn from each other so that they can improve where they have challenges.
Several representatives from other OSSCs gave their testimonies and all pointed out the challenge of lack of funding, space, furniture and resources.
They also pointed out that municipal departmental heads operate from OSSCs due to lack of office space at Municipal level.
Mrs Jane Akwero, the Human Resource Officer Gulu Municipal council and in charge Gulu One stop service center says they are only four months old but there are so far three desks at the center that handle customer care issues, pension, payroll management and TIN registration and the lands desk.
Akwero says the center has minimized complaints of delayed pension payments.
She notes that municipality authorities have budgeted 8million shs for the center but Samuel Mali, the Principal Commercial Officer of Mbale Municipality One Stop Service Center, which is second best model center says the district is a home to about 10 University campuses whereby the students visit the center for academic purposes.
Mr Mali says the center also handles the contentious 1972 Departed Asians Property case and hopes that it will soon be settled.
The vision for service Uganda is accessible, efficient and affordable public services while the Mission is to provide a comprehensive range of integrated services.
The One Stop-Service Center is a center that provides integrated services and information from government to people, as part of a comprehensive strategy to ease stress and strain of accessing public and social services to better their lives.