By Peter Ssebulime
Kampala: Members of the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) have called upon the government to show to the public tax payers the criteria used to increase allowances of members of parliament by a whopping 39%, and also fast-track the establishment and operationalization of these salaries.
The Executive Director CSBAG Julius Mukunda says that this will be impactful for the country to give proper guidance upon rational basis for any increase in emoluments for any government agency or department, so as to save finances. Mukunda said that “The increased budget of Shs63.46 billion to accommodate increasing costs of living for MPs and parliamentary commission staff, will cause unrest and agitation amongst other public/ civil servants, and may lead to demoralization and more strikes.” He added that “Low morals and strikes will also lead to poor service delivery which affects the image of government. We understand that by virtue of the ruling of the Constitutional Court in Mwesige Vs Attorney General and others, parliament can no longer unilaterally increase their emoluments without a motion brought by government (Executive). If government is the one that moved this motion, it risks more strikes and so far there are reports that CAOs are demanding salary increment from Shs1.7m to Shs13m.
How can the government tell them there is no money when such a huge allowance increment for MPs is being affected? If CAOs go for strike, service delivery in the entire country will be paralyzed and more disturbingly, MPs could also seek arrears on their fuel facilitation at a new rate of Uganda shs4500 per litter up to two years.” During the budget process members of parliament used their legislative rights to propose cuts to sector budgets and also increase their allowance by 39% to tune of Shs63.66 billion. They noted that National Medical Stores’ budget to supply Anti – Malaria Medicine to accredited facilities was cut from Shs10.2 billion to Shs4.7 billion in the financial year 2018/19 and 2019/20 respectively.
Meanwhile, David Walakira, the budget policy specialist said that “Upon review of staffing for hospitals like Gulu Referral Hospital, we realize they have a staffing gap of 9 consultants (2.2bn gap) and 4 (106.4 Million gap) clinical officers among others. We also note that the Shs63.46 billion requested by MPs will return to an average increase to the MPs allowance by Shs149 million annually, which is an addition to the existing allowances.” It is on that basis that Civil Societies resolved to mobilize voters in all constituencies across the country to take action against their MPs through calling them to reverse this decision, write an open letter to the President pointing out how this move may increase strikes and affect service delivery, which will in turn affect his NRM party’s manifesto. The CSOs want to ask citizens to write open letters to their MPs against this selfish increment.