- Published on Wednesday, 08 August 2012 09:50
- Written by Nkwasibwe Geofrey
- Category: news
- Hits: 238
This financial year, Parliament will spend up to Shs 12.22bn on committee work alone, with most of the money going towards various members’ allowances and travel within and outside the country.
Of this, Shs 725.76m will be spent on refreshments for committee meetings which usually include mandazi, chapatti, sausages, tea in milk and bottled drinking water for members as they go about their legislative work.
The expenditure is detailed in a letter dated July 25, which The Observer has seen. This document shows that the MPs’ sitting allowances and honoraria, in addition to travel inland and abroad, have been increased four times over.
The breakdown is as follows: honoraria, Shs 1.176bn; refreshments, Shs 725.76m; inland travel, Shs 3.377bn, travel abroad, Shs 3.5997bn; stationery, Shs 280m and sitting allowances, Shs 3.069bn, bringing the overall total to Shs 12.22bn.
Honoraria refers to the allowance given to committee chairpersons and their deputies for leading the committees, while the sitting allowances are for the ordinary members on a committee.
The three-page letter was titled, ‘Committee Funds for the Financial Year 2012/2013’ and signed by Paul G.
Wabwire, deputy clerk to Parliament (Legislative Affairs). It also announced the increase of back-bench MPs’ sitting allowances from Shs 100,000 to Shs 150,000 per day.
It is copied to the Speaker and her deputy, Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Clerk to Parliament and Chief Accountant, among others.
The recent changes mean that each of the 28 committee chairpersons and their deputies will pocket an additional Shs 3.5m on top of the consolidated pay the legislators already enjoy.
Reliable sources within the Parliamentary Commission told this reporter last week that the move followed a noticeable lack of morale amongst the members who have recently registered dismal performance in attending to their committee work.
“The Speaker has been grappling with committee attendance. Our suspicion is that the drastic increases were made with that in mind, to motivate them to come and attend the committee sittings,” the source said.
There are reports that many of the MPs are facing financial difficulties, with most of their salary going towards servicing loans. The consolidated average pay of a Ugandan MP currently stands at about Shs 20m.
In addition to a salary of Shs 2.6m, the Ugandan tax payer pays each MP a mileage allowance, subsistence allowance, town running allowance, medical insurance and gratuity.
“This money puts them in a certain comfort zone with some income to push them through the month, even if the main pay is taken for their loans,” a source said.
Recently, the commission scrapped the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and used the money to enhance the MPs’ allowances. The MPs had earlier benefitted from an enviable car loan of Shs 103m each received at the start of the 9th Parliament.
The latest increases have angered the Parliamentary Commission staff, whose salaries weren’t enhanced. A senior staff member on Monday commented on the matter in confidence, saying that at first, they too had been considered, but then the President said it was too much money.
The increase also comes at a time when teachers are engaged in on-and-off strikes, protesting government’s failure to enhance their pay by 100 per cent.
In an interview yesterday, Kinkizi East MP, Chris Baryomunsi, a member of the commission, defended the increased allowances, suggesting that the MPs’ expenses had also shot up.
“Those increments are being misrepresented,” Baryomunsi said. “The increments are allowances on members’ mileage and the last time the allowances were set was in 2001 when fuel cost about Shs 1,300 a litre. Today fuel is over Shs 3,000, so how does any member of the public expect MPs to do their work without fuel facilitation?”
Asked about the plight of a teacher, whose one-month salary an MP will earn by doing less than two days’ work at Parliament, Baryomunsi suggested he was just as concerned about teachers’ pay as MPs’ proper facilitation.
“The issue of teachers’ pay should not be mixed with MPs’ facilitation because the two are very different yet they are both very important,” he said.
Source: The Observer