Parliamentary Commission wants additional Shs125bn for per diem

Parliamentary Commission wants additional Shs125bn for per diem
Clerk to Parliament Adolf Mwesige, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa and Speaker Anita Among

The request hits the dust from allegations of gross corruption by the Eleventh Parliament head-on as it was yet to settle.

PARLIAMENT | The Parliamentary Commission has made an additional request for Shs125 billion for payment of salaries, travel costs and per diem.

The request hits the dust from allegations of gross corruption by the Eleventh Parliament head-on as it was yet to settle.

Parliament says per diems are for the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Leader of the Opposition and MPs.

The money, it adds, will facilitate the officials attend all the local and international events they are invited to, and also enable them to locally conduct oversight roles in committees.

The details are contained in the report for the 2024/25 Ministerial Policy statement for the Parliamentary Commission that was presented by Robina Rwakoojo, chairperson of the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, to Parliament on Wednesday.

Parliament’s budget has been reduced by Shs78 billion by the Ministry of Finance.

This budget cut was rejected by the Committee, recommending that the Ministry of Finance restores Parliament’s budget to the current operating level in order not to stifle operations at Parliament.

For the last two months, Speaker Anita Among has been embroiled in fending off accusations of gross corruption driven by social media exposes of the Speaker's spendthrift and the controversial partaking in the so-called service award.

The public has been incensed that Speaker Anita Among has been taking the taxpayer back by billions of shillings on foreign travels and what the Speaker's Chambers called 'corporate social responsibility'.

And amidst it all, it emerged that the former Leader of the Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga pocketed Shs500 million in a one-off service award barely two years into the tenure he has since lost as he reels from a corruption scandal.

Three other backbench commissioners under Mpuuga received Shs400 million each.

None of the implicated officials has shown a speck of remorse, with the Speaker recently telling off any Member of Parliament who raises the issue on the floor.

The brave face and subsequent request for additional funding to do more of the same will not shock many Ugandans who are increasingly believing that the Legislature has hit the abyss.

The Parliamentary Commission also requested for additional Shs3.747 billion to cater for staff wage shortfall.

This, according to the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, will go to staff allowances, National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and pension contributions.

The Committee also recommended the provision of Shs1.606 billion to enable the Commission to make its annual contribution to the East African Community in Arusha for the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), after no funds were allocated for this item.

Much as there have been critics on parliament expenditure, documents provided to the Committee indicated that the budget for the Parliamentary Commission is estimated to reduce to Shs866.856 billion in 2024/25 from Shs945.555 billion in the current financial year.

During the consideration of the Ministerial Policy Statement, the Parliamentary Commission provided an update on the progress on the construction of the new Parliamentary Chambers, which was reported at 43 percent against expected progress of 50 percent.

The slow pace was attributed to the cash flow challenges faced by the contractor.

The Committee also reported that, so far, Parliament has passed 17 bills against the annual planned 40 bills, while 34 Committee Reports were debated and adopted by the House against the planned 60.

Also, 68 Resolutions on various motions were passed against the 80 motions planned for 2023/24.

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