Parliament is seeking Shs 3.3 billion for the emoluments of twelve more legislators starting July 1, 2018.
According to the parliamentary service commission, the number of MPs will increase from 453 to 465 at the start of the of 2018/2019 financial year when new districts and municipalities come into effect.
While appearing before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Usuk County MP Peter Ogwang, a commissioner of parliament, called for allocation of more money to cater for the new legislators.
He says although very vital, the money remains under the underfunded priorities based on the 2018/2019 financial budget estimates for parliament.
He explains that the Electoral Commission has already released a roadmap for the election of representatives from the new districts and municipalities, which calls for provision of funds for the legislators.
Parliament is seeking Shs 646 billion for FY 2018/2019. Shs 90 billion is budgeted for wages while Shs 489 billion is for non-wage expenditure.
The recurrent budget would account for Shs 579 billion while the development budget accounts for Shs 66 billion.
However, the ministry of Finance has only provided Shs 86 billion for wages, 305 billion for non-wage expenditure and maintained the development budget at Shs 66 billion to cater for the construction of the new parliament chambers.
On the other hand, the recurrent budget was reduced to Shs 392 billion bringing total budget of parliament to about Shs 459 billion. The budget cut will leave the institution with a shortfall of Shs 187 billion.
Opposition chief whip Ibrahim Ssemujju says it’s a shame that parliament has no offices for MPs to work from. He says some MPs may stay away from parliament since they don’t have offices and computers to do their work.
Semujju says they have warned government against creating more districts and constituencies in vain. Jane Kibirige, the clerk to parliament, says the challenge of space is likely to continue for the next three years until the completion of the new parliament chambers.
She says despite securing office space at Queen Chambers at Shs 4.5 billion annually to supplement the parliamentary building, the lack of space situation hasn’t changed. Kibirige says they are looking at acquiring buildings near parliament to create more space as construction for the new chambers continues.
On September 3, 2015, parliament approved the creation of 23 new districts with 196 MPs voting for, six against and three abstaining from, the motion tabled by the then minister of Local Government, Adolf Mwesige.
Mwesige then said that it was considered necessary to create the districts for effective administration of those areas and to bring services closer to the people.
He said government had put into consideration the means of communication, geographical features, destiny of the population, the economic viability and the wishes of the people concerned.
The districts were to be phased over a five-year period including Kagadi, Kakumiro, Omoro and Rubanda which became effective on July 1, 2016. Namisindwa, Pakwach, Butebo, Rukiga, Kyotera and Bunyangabu followed on July 1, 2017, with Nabilatuk, Bugweri, Kasanda, Kwania, Kapelebyong and Kikuube becoming operational on July 1, 2018.
The last batch would have Obongi, Kazo, Rwampara, Kitagwenda, Madi-Okollo, Karenga and Lusot which will become effective on July 1, 2019.
Parliament also approved the creation of 19 new municipalities twelve of which became effective on July 1, 2015 retrospectively.
They include among others Nansana, Kira, Makindye Ssabagabo in Wakiso district, Kisoro, Mityana, Kitgum, Koboko, Mubende, Kumi, Luganzi in Buikwe district, Kamuli and Kapchorwa.
The other municipalities come into force at the start of the 2018/2019 financial year. They include among others Ibanda, Njeru in Buikwe district, Apac, Nebbi, Bugiri, Sheema and Kotido.
-Uganda Radio Network