Legislators called back from recess

By Daudi Zirimala

The Parliament of Uganda is sitting this afternoon from recess to discuss matters of national importance.

According to the clerk to parliament Jane Kibirige, the speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga summoned the legislators to constitute the sector committees of parliament for financial year 2018/19.

Some sources also said that issues of mobile money and social media tax likely to be discussed under matters of national importance.

Legislators join mobilization for signatures against new taxes

By Deo Wasswa

Hon. Mbwatekamwa Ggafa(Bwamba county),Hon. Sabiiti Denis(Rubanda west), Hon. Florence Namayanja(Bukoto east),  Honrable Baseka(Ntenjeru south) Fred,  Hon Ajilo Maria Goreth(Kaberamaido) and Honorable Semuli Anthony (Mubende municipality) are some of members of parliament who have signed the pledged book to oppose the new proposed  taxes  on mobile money.

The campaign which has been launched officially today at Hotel Africana seeks to collect 250 signatures from  members of parliament to reject this tax which is likely to affect a bigger percentage of Ugandans if it’s adopted by the government.

However , during the launch some Members of parliament have advised the proprietorship of the campaign, the civil society budget advocacy group to mobilize them selves and walk to parliament to convince other members of parliament to join the campaign.

Julius Muhinda, the national coordinator, Civil society budget advocacy group says they have started mobilizing Ugandans to out their members of parliament on pressure to reject this form of tax.
He says within two weeks,  they except to collect at least  100 signatures  from members of parliament.

Over 2 billion to be spent on legislators to attending the a convention in the US

Parliament is spending over 2 billion Shillings to facilitate the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and a delegation of legislators attending the 28th Uganda North America Convention – UNAA, in the United States.

UNAA is the largest community organization for the Ugandan Diaspora, often used as a platform to stimulate fellowship among members in North America, Europe and Uganda. The community, founded in 1988, boasts of over 120,000 members.

According to the UNAA website, the event this year runs from September 2 to September 4 at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. It will feature networking, business and education forums and political governance debates. Over 50 traders will also exhibit items portraying Ugandan culture, produce, art crafts, cuisine and textiles.

The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and her Deputy Jacob Oulanyah will both attend the convention alongside a team of 78 members of Parliament. They are accompanied by several parliamentary staff.

Another team headed by the Leader of Opposition Winnie Kiiza is attending a parallel convention to be held in Los Angeles, California.

The Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah left for the convention yesterday August 30 while the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga set off today August 31 together with the other Members of Parliament. They return on September 6.

Each air ticket for the Members of Parliament was quoted at 5,700 US Dollars, approximately 19,015,400 Uganda Shillings. All legislators are flying business class by Emirates Airlines. The total cost on tickets is 456,000 US Dollars (over 1.5 billion Shillings).

The speakers are each entitled to per diem of 720 US Dollars or 2,401,950 Shillings per day while the Members of Parliament are entitled to 520 US Dollars (1,734,740 Shillings) per day. The total per diem cost for both Speakers is 1,440 US Dollars (4,803,900 Shillings) per day totaling to 8,640 US Dollars ( over 28 million Shillings) for the six days of the trip.

At least 41,600 US Dollars (over 138 million Shillings) will be spent on MPs allowances per day amounting to 249,600 (over 832 million Shillings) for the six days.

Some of the MPs on the Uganda delegation are Kato Lubwama, Mohammed Nsereko, Zaake Francis, Lyandro Komakech, Peter Ogwang, Felix Okot Ogong, Cissy Namujju, Johnson Muyanja Senyonga, Tusiime Michael, Alex Ruhunda and Godfrey Katushabe.

But Chris Obore, parliaments’ director of communications told Uganda Radio Network that parliament is facilitating only seven legislators while all the others are meeting the cost of their travel and accommodation while in the United States.

He adds that three others legislators; Peter Ogwang, Arinaitwe Rwakajara and Robinah Nabbanja, traveled in a separate capacity as Parliamentary Commissioners and are facilitated by the Parliamentary Commission.

Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa is traveling to the same event as part of government delegation while the Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige is leading a team of six technical staff mainly from the PR Department to run a stall at the convention and one legal person, to explain legal issues in parliament.

The technical staffs include Chris Obore, Hellen Kaweesa, Mohammed Katamba, Charles Bukuwa, Agnes Nabasumba and Guma Jackie.

The absence of both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker in parliament led to the suspension of sittings on Tuesday when legislators were expected to start debating a motion on a disputed Private Members’ Bill seeking to amend sections of the 1995 Constitution. The motion was tabled last week Thursday by Nakifuma County MP Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko.

An email sent to all Members of Parliament, authored by the office of the Clerk to Parliament indicated that sittings were called off until further notice.

‘Please be informed that there will be no plenary sessions today. Any inconveniences caused are highly regretted”, a message sent to MPs read.

Ranny Ismail, parliament’s Assistant Director for Media and Communications however told URN that the sitting was postponed because the Speaker, who had been away in Mauritius needed to get a brief from her deputy Jacob Oulanyah who chaired previous sessions.

Another notice issued this afternoon indicates that there will be no sessions in Parliament until September 9th.  The notice issued by the Deputy Clerk to Parliament Paul Wabwire states that the suspension of sessions is based on a request by the Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, to allow cabinet time to accomplish certain activities.

Wabwire says, in the statement, that while the speaker accepted the request by government, she has accordingly directed that committees proceed with their planned activities.

Government is organising an induction for members of cabinet, to be held on September 1-2, and a retreat with all Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, and heads of government agencies on government annual performance report for the financial year 2015-2016.

-URN

Number of legislators to increase as Parliament approves 76 new constituencies

Parliament on Tuesday approved the creation of 76 new parliamentary constituencies. The ninth Parliament voted for the creation of new constituencies but it did not go through the legal requirement for creation of Parliamentary constituencies as per article 63 of the constitution.

The approval followed a motion by Justice Minister, Kahinda Otafiiire. Otafiire told Parliament there was an omission on part of government and asked Parliament for retrospective approval in order to legalize the new constituencies.

Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba had attempted to block debate on the motion saying the matter under consideration was before court. He told Parliament that one  Andrew Tumusiime had taken the Attorney General to Court challenging the legality of the new constituencies.

Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga however over ruled him saying she had not been served an injunction by court to stop debate on the matter.

Bugweri County MP, Abdu Katuntu said that the formation of the new counties in the first place was unconstitutional but government could not listen to the opposition advice.

Otafiire said that there was an omission on the government side but noted that they are duty bound by the command of the Constitution to ensure that they prescribe the number of constituencies as they are today.

Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana said  there was need for Parliament to legalize what is already in place.

Aruu Municipality MP Adonga Otto said that parliament had no option but to legalize the new counties saying that it is in the interest of the MPs that the motion passes.

Kiira Municipality MP, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda said a number of MPs including himself would be affected if Parliament failed to approve the motion.  He blamed the mess on government for failing to table  amendments to the Electoral laws early enough.

The new constituents that already have their representatives in the current Parliament include Agago North, Orungo County, Lutseshe County, Kachumbala County, Bukomansimbi South, Elgon County, Dokolo South County, Gomba West County, Kilak North County and others.

The others include Ik County, Bulamogi North-West County,  Kabweri County, Kashongi County, Kibanda North County, Chua East County,  Kole North County, Butemba County, Kyaka South County, Kiira Municipality, Tepeth County, Mawogola North County, Koboko North County, Adjumani East County and others.

-URN