While chairing Tuesday’s plenary, the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah asked government Ministries, Department and Agencies to stop with immediate effect funding activities of Parliamentary committees.
Oulanyah warned that if such practices continue, the House will find itself in captivity and lose its respect and independence.
The matter was raised by Kyegegwa Woman Member of Parliament Flavia Kabahenda who informed Parliament that the Ministry of Finance had released a schedule for the regional budget conferences which require Chairpersons of the committees to attend with a promise of facilitation.
“They require the chairpersons of the committees to attend the regional budget consultative arrangements and they are providing transport, accommodation and I wonder whether that is a contravention of the guidance of this House.”
Kahabenda added that even at time when processing reports some government agencies want to take members for the retreat so that they can explain to them on the matter of the bill they desire to pass so that members debate about the bill or a report with full knowledge about it. “I need guidance on this.”
However, the speaker informed the members that, “The minister of Finance does not give you authority to go anyway, I’m the one with that tool or the Deputy Speaker. So if you have any secret program with the minister of Finance that will you be a problem!”
Oulanyah warned members that if they want their mandate, authority and independence eroded, let somebody else other than Parliament finance their activities.
He added that soon the August House may lose its independence if it starts getting external funding from other outsources because the funders will begin to instruct members on what to do.
“He who pays the piper calls the tune; I am calling upon all ministries, agencies and departments to cease from this dealing because it eventually ends up undermining the independence of the institution,” Oulanyah ordered.
He also advised all the Parliamentary Committees which need special funding for their day-to-day activities to reach the responsible offices in parliament so that they can be given funds instead of sourcing funds from other government agencies.
In order to grip his order, he has also directed the Clerk to Parliament to write to all Committee Clerks and to the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the committee to take note of the directive of not allowing any special funding from any government agency.
One of the commissioners of Parliament who preferred anonymity, said Oulanyah’s call came at a right time because in the past Parliaments some of the decisions within some committees were influenced by agencies due to big fundings which were given to members.
“There is no way one will be neutral on debating a bill or a report after getting money from the agency or a department that is supporting it or against it. In fact, this is bribery and it’s unfortunate that it has been going on.”
“I think this is the right time for the Speaker to blow his warning trumpet to the members given that fact some bills are coming back in the House if he allows such fundings, members are going to become puppets yet Parliament has its own budget and it can run its business perfectly. Remember this is the most respected assembly in the country so it must be independent.”
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