No money for 12 new MPs in Parliament

The tax burden on the Ugandan taxpayers will get heavier next financial year with an anticipated increase in the number of Members of Parliament.

The current number of 453 MP will shoot up to 465 with the election of 12 new MPs to represent new districts and municipalities that come into effect on July 1.

The increase in the number of MPs comes with a Shs 3.3bn increase in Parliament’s budget to facilitate the MPs.

According to the Parliamentary Commission’s budget proposals for the 2018/19 Financial Year, the additional number of MPs remains one of the unfunded priorities.

“The current 10th Parliament has a total of 453 MPs and subsequently, the number is expected to increase effective July 1 with the coming into effect the six new districts as you are aware that the Electoral Commission has released the road map for municipal elections so that also comes to six. This calls for allocation of more resources.”

In their Shs 646bn budget proposal, Parliament Commission had projected to spend Shs 90bn on wage, while Non-Wage would account for Shs 489bn, the Recurrent budget would account for Shs 579bn, and the Development would account for Shs 66bn.

However, the Ministry of Finance made changes to the budget, allocating 86bn for wages,

Shs 305bn non-wage expenditure, while the development budget was maintained at 66bn to cater for the construction of the new chambers.

On the other hand, the recurrent budget was reduced to Shs 392bn, bringing Parliament’s total budget to Shs 459bn.

The budget cut will leave the institution grappling with a funding gap of Shs187.880bn, of which, Shs 3.492bn in wage cuts.

Opposition Whip, Ibrahim Ssemujju questioned why there are no offices for MPs.

“In Owino market, there are people who are selling goods on verandas that is what we have turned into. There is no Parliament you go to when MPs don’t have offices, computers and can’t do research and you expect them to decide on matters of national importance,” Ssemujju said.

During the meeting between the Commissioners and MPs, it was also revealed that some of the MPs that joined Parliament recently have no office space, and those with offices have no furniture and computers.

Jane Kibirige, Clerk to Parliament however said that the issue of office space will go on for three years, until the completion of the new Parliament chambers.

She admitted that despite the acquisition of office at Queen Chambers from businessman Sudhir Ruparelia Shs 4,544,064,939bn annually to supplement of the Parliament building.

Kibirige noted: “We don’t actually office space, even queen chambers is full, but we are eyeing Uganda Prisons block. If prisons can get money in this financial year, they can vacate the place. We have to wait for three years. The issue of office will continue for some time because we are increasing the number of districts.”