A Pleasant Welcome Of Shs 300m Awaits Each Freshly Elected & Re-elected Member Of Uganda’s Parliament Amidst Covid-19 Economic Hardship

The Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija is hunting for sh165bn to avail Parliament a budget for MPs motor vehicle allowances in the 11th Parliament. Divided by about 520 MPs, each is expected to pocket closet to sh320million in vehicle allowances.

Minister Kasaija said that even if the 165 billion expenditure for cars is not yet funded, the money will have to be availed because the MPs need transport, especially the first termers.

When asked how much each MP will be entitled to and whether it was indeed Sh321m Kasaija said that that figure will have to be determined by the Parliamentary Commission on which he himself sits.

“Every MP must get a car. Especially the new ones…..but the amount will depend on what the Parliamentary Commission determines. If we have the money we will provide, if we do not have the money we can give half, or a quarter then the MP can go and determine what type of car he can get,” Kasaija said.

The item of Cars for new MPs is captured in the Budget Framework Paper for the 2021/2022 financial year as one of the critical but unfunded priorities. The other unfunded priority in the next budget is compensation for cattle in Acholi, Lango and Teso.

The number of Uganda’s MPs will only be confirmed when parliament starts. The president can appoint about ten or even more ex-officio members who despite being fully facilitated as ministers, still enjoy all the emoluments and perks of elected MPs.

The cars item in the Parliament’s budget may, however, be seen by State House as going against a warning made by President Yoweri Museveni during his recent victory speech following his triumph in the 2021 presidential elections.

Museveni warned MPs against extravagance and wasteful expenditure and warned them against increasing their allowances and emoluments.

In the 10th Parliament, the government spent nearly 110bn shillings on motor vehicle funds awarded to MPs.

The money was released in two instalments with MPs getting 100m shillings each in October 2016 following a release of 64.5bn shillings, MPs were to get an additional 100m each following release of 45.8billion shillings in June 2017.

Budget Framework Paper 2021-2022

According to the budget framework paper for the 2021/2022 financial year, there are budgetary pressures that the government is facing totalling to Sh5.99 trillion.

However, after review of the pressures government says the critical funding areas will require Sh3.19 trillion next financial year.

Among the critical pressures is the classified equipment project under ministry of defence requiring Sh1.026 trillion which has been fully provided under the proposed allocations, Uganda National Oil Company Capitalization (UNOC) requiring 539.9bn shillings of which 100.6bn shillings has been indicated under the proposed allocations and Salaries Pensions and Gratuity requiring 492.4bn shillings of which 170.1bn shillings has been proposed under the budget estimates.

The critical areas which remain fully unfunded under the proposed allocations are the recurring supplementary from the current financial year requiring 388.6bn shillings, compensation for cattle in Acholi, Lango and Teso requiring 200bn shillings, counterpart funding for the UgandaIntergovernmental Fiscal Transfers Program requiring 381.5bn shillings and vehicles for new members of parliament requiring 165bn shillings.

The 11th parliament is set to see the amount spent on the MPs’ car allowance rise by 55bn shillings to 165bn shillings owing to an increase in the number of MPs from 448 to 514. This translates into a cash-out of 321m shillings per MP. There are no costs involved in this implementing the MPs’ car ‘programme’ as the money is simply wired to MPs to spend as each chooses. When the (new) MP are undergoing orientation, car dealer swamps the premises offering ‘bargain’ deals to the members, but there are no conditions, standards or guidelines for the MPs to follow and one can even choose not to buy a car. Some in the 9th and 10th Parliament bought an ambulance of their constituency with (part of) the money.

The budget framework paper says that the priorities that have not been covered or partially covered will be funded through tax policy and administrative measures that are still under review and the process is expected to be complete by the end of January 2021.

 

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URN

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