Parliament closes in on government officials asking favors from investors

By Edwin Muhumuza

Members of parliament have called for the streamlining and publication of all incentives and benefits  of investors in the ongoing amendments to the investment bill.

This after it was revealed that some government officials were going ahead to ask for favors from investors in return of granting them licenses for operation.Their concerns were raised as the State Minister of Finance for Investment, Hon.Evelyn Anite accompanied by Investment Authority Executive Director Jolly Kaguhangire ,appeared before the committee of finance.

Last week, among the things highlighted on the floor of parliament was that the law focused on the investment authority yet there were outstanding issues pertaining the investor.Now  the parliamentary committee of finance headed by,Hon.Henry Musasizi, is trying to conclude with the review of the investment code bill which seeks to  amend the 1992 investment Act.

Members of the committee  have deferred debate on the Investment Code Bill aimed at ensuring a conducive environment for investors. Amos Lugolobi (Ntenjeru South), a member of the Parliament committee says there should be incentives for strategic areas of investments, including VAT Exemptions on, supply of services such as feasibility studies/designs, earth moving equipment, construction materials, to a developer of an industrial park, whose investment is at least $200million among others.

Patrick Nsamba(Kasanda North) adds that the Investment code bill should include, the environment of operation ,handling issues such as, investment guarantees, competition, openness in trade and investment, investor rights, treatment ie; the local investor versus the foreign investor, issues to do with protecting capital investment, repatriation of capital and assets, protection of intellectual property, and financial transparency.


Speaker Kadaga asks government to support innovative women

By Zirimala Daudi

The speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga says that the government should support women in innovations and creativity skills by including them into the innovation fund.

Reading the statement on behalf of the speaker, the minister of state for Science and Technology Elioda Tumwesigye , the speaker said women and girls constitute a half of the Uganda’s population and 40% of the business registered in Uganda are owned by women therefore its incumbent upon government to put in place policies to support women.

She said the Intellectual property day celebrates the resourcefulness and bravery of the women who are driving change in our world and shaping our common future.

The World Intellectual day was organized by Uganda Registrations Services Bureau under the theme powering change; women in innovation and creativity.


Rukutana says Government acted with in the law on age limit

Deputy  Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukuntana  has told court in Mbale hearing the age limit petition  that  parliament acted within the law and prescribed procedures to amend the Constitution including the lifting of the 75 year old presidential age limit and enlargement of the MPs and LC5 leaders tenure term in office from five to seven years.
Rukutana and  solicitor General Francis Atoke led a legal  team of other  18 state Attorneys  in their effort to prove before a panel of five justices that the law was constitutionally passed. He adds that government did not break any law while facilitating the entire process leading to the amendment of the constitution including the  funds from the consolidated fund to pay 29 million shillings to each mp  fir consultations.

Parliamentary committee advised to leave Kadaga-Namuganza feud to Museveni

By Edwin Muhumuza

NRM chairman Eastern Region Mike Mukula has told the parliamentary committee on rules and discipline that the scuffle between lands minister Persis Namuganza and Speaker Rebecca Kadaga should be left to the party.

The Former Soroti Municipality MP was appearing as witness in a scandal that has shocked the country and heightened ethnic tensions in Busoga region.He said the matter is now being solved by the party chairman Yoweri Museveni.

Deputy speaker Jacob Oulanyah directed the committee chaired by Kalaki MP Clement Ongalo-Obote to investigate the two powerful women from Busoga sub-region after Ngora MP David Abala raised a procedural matter, that the conflict as captured in the media was irritating and required explanation.

Kadaga and Namuganza’s conflicts started early this month at function to launch boreholes in Bukono, where Namuganza reportedly told off Kadaga and Busoga king Gabula Nadiope to concentrate on ‘fighting jiggers in Kamuli’, which to her are a serious threat than ‘poking their noses’ into Namutumba affairs.

The Bukono County MP,  shed tears last week while appearing before the Committee on Rules, Discipline and Privileges over her rivalry with Speaker Rebecca Kadaga,saying that her life is in danger, after the Speaker allegedly ‘declared war’ on her.

Internal affairs expecting new stock of passports in July

Internal Affairs Minister Jeje Odongo has told Parliament that the new stock of ordinary passports is expected to arrive in a month’s time.

Minister Odongo’s revelation on Wednesday followed a heated debate on his statement to parliament communicating the low stock levels of ordinary passports as per the 13th June 2017 ministry’s press release.

In his statement, Odongo attributed the shortage in ordinary passports to the yet to be realised migration from machine readable passports to the E-passports which had been planned for April 3, 2017. He now says that East Africa Member States have now extended the deadline to December 2017.

“In view of the above, it was logical to procure reasonable quantities to avoid financial loss due to over stocking of a passport that is about to be replaced,” said General Odongo.

He added that his ministry was also experiencing an unprecedented increase in the demand for ordinary passports especially from Ugandans seeking employment abroad from 450 to 700 daily applicants.

He however said that his ministry was already taking the necessary steps to ensure that the required stock levels are replenished.

Odongo told parliament that the Attorney General William Byaruhanga has already cleared a new agreement to enable the Internal Affairs ministry replenish the stock of ordinary passports in one month.

The minister’s comments on the new stock of passports, however, came after legislators led by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga had faulted government for what they called incompetence and poor planning. They also noted that the development was financially nonviable to the country.

Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga said it was the first time he was listening to a General make a confession of incompetence before parliament.

“Could you tell parliament why we should not hold you responsible for incompetence and mismanagement? The minister is telling us he has failed at his duties,” said Mpuuga.



Parliament finally approves UGX 15.9 Billion for LC polls

Parliament has approved 15.9 billion Shillings to fund elections for Local Council (LC) I and II leaders across the country. The funding was approved as parliament considered a report of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for the financial year 2017-2018.

Legislators warned that the budget for the Electoral Commission, one of the sectors dissected by the legal committee, could not be approved without a provision for local council elections.

The local councils are the first reference points for the community and other organs of the state. However, Uganda has not held LCI elections since 2001 owing to a 2007 ruling based on a petition filed by Maj Rubaramira Ruranga, the former chairman of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party Electoral Commission.

Major Ruranga argued that Local councils which were previously elected under the movement system became unconstitutional when the country adopted a multiparty political system.

Court ruled that the new LCs could not be elected unless the respective electoral laws had been amended to reflect the multiparty setting. Subsequently parliament of Uganda passed the Local Government (Amendment) Bill which provides for election of village, ward and parish councils under the multiparty system. However, no fresh LC elections have been held to date.

Jacob Oboth-Oboth the chairperson of the Legal Committee of parliament earlier told the committee that there was no provision for funding local council elections in the EC budget for next financial year. However, his submission was contested by State Minister for Planning David Bahati who insisted that money had been provided for the polls.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah directed the two leaders to vacate the chambers and reconcile their figures.

On return, both MP Oboth and state minister Bahati confirmed to parliament that funds have been availed in the next financial year 2017/2018 to conduct local council elections. Bahati said that the money had been classified as general elections.

Uganda has 57,842 villages.




Court overturns decision on Katakwi MP Akurut

By Sania Babirye

The  Court of Appeal has overturned the Soroti high court decision that had nullified the election of Katakwi district woman MP Violet Akurut.

Three court of appeal justices led by deputy chief justice Steven Kavuma  ruled that the lower court trial judge David Wangutusi applied the law wrongly  when he treated the MP as a public servant for failing to resign  her position in the  Human rights commission  90 days before she presented herself for nomination.

The justices ruled that Hon Akurut  is not a public servant as it had been stated because she is not an employee of the Human Rights Commission and  commissioners are not public servants.

The court has now reinstated her as the district  woman MP and ordered the petitioner to pay her costs of the suit.

In July 2016 the MPs victory was cancelled on grounds that she never resigned her  public service position as a commissioner with the Uganda Human Rights Commission after a voter a one Simon Peter Emorutu challenged her victory and ordered for fresh elections.

Legislators rule that arcade owners should be paid in Ugandan shillings

Ugandan tenants will no longer be mandated to pay rent in US Dollars following a new law passed by parliament.  The income tax amendment bill 2017 provides that all rental agreements must be executed in Ugandan currency.

The move comes in relief of tenants in many shopping malls who were forced by their landlords, to pay rent in US dollars despite earning in Uganda Shillings. This implied that their rent bills increased whenever there was appreciation of the Dollar.

Parliament unanimously resolved that all rental agreements must be executed in Ugandan Shillings in order to protect and eliminate exploitation of Ugandan traders whose profits are pegged on fluctuations on the money market.

Members argued that the new provision will boost the Uganda Shilling which is continuously depreciating against major foreign currencies and ease the cost of doing business in the country, especially since rental fees form a major challenge to business.

Finance Committee Chairman Henry Musasizi stated the move is good for the development of the economy.

Similarly Budadiri West MP Nathan Nandala Mafabi says Ugandan traders need to be protected.

The changes came as parliament amended the income tax act to provide for the exemption from payment of income tax for a number of companies and to empower the minister to issue estimates of rent for the purposes of assessing rental tax among others.



Data bill continues to be shelved as companies continuously seek personal information

The Data Protection and Privacy bill 2016 is gathering dust in the shelves of parliament, a year after it was tabled. The State Minister for Planning, David Bahati tabled the bill in parliament in April 2016. The speaker referred the bill to the Information, Communication and Technology Committee for scrutiny before it presents a report to parliament for discussion and final approval.

The bill seeks to cover areas that deal with personal data, which are not provided for in the Interception of Communication Act and the Registration of Person’s Act. The bill also seeks to regulate how personal information is collected and processed. It also contains provisions that allow Ugandans a right to withhold their personal data, inquire the purpose for which it is being sought and how long the data should be used.

Part IV of the bill talks about security of data and requires those collecting the data to keep it secure and protect its integrity.  However, since then nothing has been done. The urgency of the Data Protection and Privacy bill came to the fore recently when government allowed telecom companies to access the bio data collected during the National Identity Card (ID) enrollment exercise.

The data is currently held by National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA). The move to allow telecom companies to access the data is aimed at helping then to enforce a directive from Uganda Communications Commission on Sim card registration. Peter Gwayaka Magelah, the Program Manager Chapter Four, says the delayed enactment of the bill is a big risk to individual data.

Paula Turyahikayo, the Chairperson of Information, Communication and Technology Committee, says the committee will handle the Data Protection and Privacy bill 2016 immediately after the budgeting process. Parliament is expected to conclude the 2017/2018 financial year budget process by May 31st, 2017.

She acknowledges the importance of the bill in protecting personal data, adding that in its absence other laws like the Interception of Communication Act and the Registration of Person’s Act can be used effectively to protect data.

However, a researcher from parliament told URN later that the existing laws don’t regulate or protect personal data like personal details collected by organizations such as banks, hospitals, travel agencies and insurance companies.





Fare thee Well Mayanja Nkangi

By Edwin Muhumuza
Parliament has paid tribute to former Buganda Premier and former minister of Justice and Constitutional affairs as his body lay in state.
He served Uganda and Buganda with dignity” said one of Uganda’s longest serving minister and Member of Parliament Hon. John Nasasira.
Former Inspector General of Government Jotham Tumwesigye has hailed the late Mayanja-Nkangi as a man so dedicated to national service.
“He lived a life of integrity and honesty. I had a chance to interact with him when he was minister of finance and i was inspector general of government. He helped me greatly when we worked together” he said.
At exactly 12 O’clock, the Speaker Rt.Hon,Rebecca Kadaga and deputy speaker Jacob Oulanya led government officials, retired civil servants, family and friends in showing last respects to the man who is widely revered as a nationalist.
Jehoash Mayanja Nkangi served as minister in three different governments. He was minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Affairs in 1963 under the Obote 1 government,
commerce and industry minister then labour minister under the Okello Lutwa government between August 1985 and January 1986. Under Museveni’s regime he was education minister, planning and economic development minister, finance minister and justice and constitutional affairs minister.
He will be buried at his ancestral home in   Kanyogoga in Kalungu district.