The reluctance of the finance ministry to issue a Certificate of Financial Implication for the Legal Aid Bill, 2018 continues to hinder its progress in Parliament.
This, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, said resulted in the rejection by Parliament of a private member’s (Gulu Municipality’s MP Lyandro Komakech) request to introduce the Bill in 2018.
Article 93 of the Constitution prohibits Private Members from legislating on Bills or amending Bills which, otherwise than by reduction, imposes a charge on the consolidated fund. Therefore, for Parliament to process any Bill, the financing aspect of the legislation has to be guaranteed by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.
“The Bill required Shs 17 billion yet according to the law, a private member cannot move a motion or introduce a Bill which has implication on the Consolidated Fund,” Oulanyah told guests at the 9th Pro Bono Day celebrations of the Uganda Law Society (ULS) on Friday, 28 June 2019 in Kampala.
The Bill which has been before Cabinet since 2012 aims to provide for easy access to free legal aid by marginalised and vulnerable groups and also regulate the legal aid service providers in the country.
“The key problem is that there is no money to finance the Legal Aid Programme. The Secretary to the Treasury is normally very uneasy when issues of recurrent expenditure are going to be introduced in the budget,” added Oulanyah.
The Deputy Speaker called on development partners to bankroll the initial stages of legal aid programmes saying that access to justice by the poor in Uganda is a matter of urgent concern.
“The current legal framework has failed to help the poor access justice. It is only the rich who can access justice,” said Oulanyah.
Oulanyah also launched the ULS application dubbed, “PulidaWo” with which the poor and vulnerable will be able access free legal services by the touch of a button.