Parliamentary Commission wants UGX125 billion for salaries, travel Costs

Efforts by current LOP; Joel Ssenyonyi and Lwemiyaga County MP, Theodore Ssekikubo to move Parliament to debate the alleged corruption and clear the image of the legislature have been thwarted by the Speaker. 

Amidst the storm over alleged corruption in which billions of Shillings have been spent by Speaker Anita Among and payment of Service Awards of UGX 500 million to former Leader of Opposition (LOP), Mathias Mpuuga, and UGX 400 million to three backbench Commissioners, the Parliamentary Commission has requested for additional funding to run affairs in Uganda’s legislature.

Ugandans especially those on social media continue to wait for accountability from the Speaker and the Parliamentary Commission in response to the recent revelations about questionable expenditures. 

Activists led by Cartoonist Dr Spire Sentongo and Journalist/Lawyer Agatha Atuhaire ran a social media exhibition that unearthed alleged rot in Parliament’s expenditure. 

Efforts by current LOP; Joel Ssenyonyi and Lwemiyaga County MP, Theodore Ssekikubo to move Parliament to debate the alleged corruption and clear the image of the legislature have been thwarted by the Speaker. 

Now, in the 2024/25 financial year budget, the Parliamentary Commission is seeking for additional UGX 125 billion for the payment of salaries, travel costs, and per diem for the speaker, Deputy Speaker, Leader of Opposition, and MPs to enable them attend all the local and international events they are invited to, and also enable locally conducting oversight roles in Committees.

The details were contained in the report for the 2024/25 ministerial policy statement for the Parliamentary Commission that was presented by Robina Rwakoojo, Chairperson of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, that indicated that Parliament’s budget had been reduced by UGX 78.698 billion by the Ministry of Finance. 

This budget cut was rejected by the Committee, recommending that the Ministry of Finance restore Parliament’s budget to the current operating level in order not to stifle operations at Parliament.

“There is currently a shortfall in operational expenses in the Offices of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Parliamentary Commission Secretariat, Government Chief Whip, and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. This shortfall arose from increasing invitations locally and internationally requiring official engagements and participation of these offices. The budget shortfall for these offices amounts to UGX 37.685 billion. The Committee recommends that additional UGX 37.685 billion be provided on the Commission non-wage recurrent budget to cater for the operational shortfall,” read in part the report.

Recently, Speaker Among protested what she termed 50 percent budget cuts to the Parliamentary Commission, a decision that put Ramathan Ggoobi, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Secretary to the Treasury into the firing line. 

Parliament also hinged on Article 79 of the Constitution which gives the institution powers to carry out oversight, legislation, and representation functions to demand for extra UGX 82.272 billion meant to fulfill the mandate.

 This if not addressed, will impede timely and responsive oversight, legislation, and representation function. The Committee therefore recommends an additional amount of UGX 82.272 billion to cater for the recurrent shortfall, added the report. 

The Parliamentary Commission also requested for additional UGX 3.747 billion to cater for the staff wage shortfall. This according to the Committee will go to staff allowances, National Social Security Fund (NSSF), and pension contributions. 

The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee also recommended the provision of UGX 1.606 billion to enable the Commission to make its annual contribution to the East African Community in Arusha for the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), after no funds were allocated for this item.

According to documents provided to the Committee, the budget for the Parliamentary Commission is estimated to reduce to UGX 866.856 billion in 2024/25 from UGX 945.555 billion in the current financial year. 

During the consideration of the Ministerial Policy Statement, the Parliamentary Commission provided an update on the progress on the construction of the new Parliamentary Chambers, which was reported at 43 percent against the expected progress of 50 percent and this was attributed to the cash flow challenges faced by the contractor.

The Committee also reported that so far, Parliament has passed 17 Bills against the annual planned 40 Bills, while 34 Committee Reports were debated and adopted by the House against the planned 60 and 68 Resolutions on various motions were passed against the 80 motions planned for 2023/24.

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