The meeting was one described by many as stormy when cabinet on Monday discussed the shs10 billion to be distributed among Members of Parliament to help fight coronavirus.
While appropriating money in the shs304 billion supplementary budget to different sectors involved in the fight against the deadly coronavirus pandemic, Shs10 billion was allocated to Parliament, where each legislator is supposed to get shs20 million.
This has caused a public uproar against legislators who have since been labeled as being greedy.
On Monday cabinet discussed the controversial money and President Museveni and his Foreign Affairs Minister, Sam Kutesa blasted parliament for the money.
The president voiced his displeasure with the happenings that saw the money appropriated to the August House.
“The president said such money was not sustainable and not for the general good. He instead thought there was a way such money could be used to benefit everybody than place it in the hands of MPs,” a source that attended the meeting but preferred anonymity told the Nile Post.
He was supported by Kutesa who said it was not fair to the population and rebuked those who wanted to be party to using the money.
“Why are you taking money of poor Ugandans,” he wondered.
Kutesa gave an example of boda boda riders who are contributing even as little as shs10,000 but from their own sweat to help in the fight against the virus and argued it would be betrayal that such people are bringing money “only for us” to give MPs shs20 million.
The Foreign Affairs Minister was supported by his Health counterpart, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng who said MPs should not touch the money.
However, in defence of the money was another group of ministers led by the government chief whip, Ruth Nankabirwa who said the shs10 billion should be left for legislators to help them facilitate grass root mobilization and sensitization of the public to fight the deadly virus.
Since news of appropriating the money to Parliament was announced, several members of the public have turned against legislators accusing them of being greedy and thinking only of their stomachs.
Opposition strongman and four time presidential candidate, Dr.Kizza Besigye described the money as a big scandal that should be avoided.
“This is a very huge scandal that parliament should reconsider giving themselves that kind of money. The crisis we are involved in is one where everyone is making huge sacrifices, many people already find it very difficult to survive and yet there is not much available,” Besigye said last week.
“MPs are some of the most highly paid people in Uganda, they should instead be contributing something to the task force.”
He said that instead of giving back to the country, MPs are instead seeing a chance to make money out of the pandemic.
Civil Society Advocacy Budgetary Group’s Executive Director Julius Mukunda described it as appalling.
“It is saddening that legislators choose to take the money for personal gain at a time government is borrowing to address the effects of Covid-19,” Mukunda said.
However, the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has continued to defend the money.
“The Members were getting calls for expenses on fuel and it had now become a burden to the MPs. They came here saying ‘find us some money from Parliamentary budget,” Kadaga said while appearing on NBS Television’s Morning Breeze.
She noted that part of the shs10 billion will be used to maintain the ambulances contributed by Parliament and individual MPs, provide fuel and pay allowances for the drivers of the ambulances already released by MPs to help the Covid-19 taskforces at district level.
Court on Tuesday halted the payment of the money until a suit filed by Ntungamo Municipality MP, Gerald Karuhanga and Erute South legislator Jonathan Odur against the same is disposed of.
There are however reports that money has since been sent to MPs’ accounts.