Call to Action…
We urge the Parliamentary Commission and the Parliamentary Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to immediately drop the proposed allowances.
We propose that all the necessary amendments be done, and MPs emoluments be determined by the Salaries and Remunerations Board.
We note with concern recent developments that the Parliamentary Commission tabled proposals for allowance increment for Members of Parliament (MPs) before the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. These allowances include; 2M lunch and tea and 3M housing per month for each MP in the 10th parliament.
Additionally, there are also proposals to increase MPs’ vehicle allowance from 103M to 130M, as well as 280B for building new chambers for MPs.
This is extremely obnoxious, myopic and unsustainable for the Ugandan tax payer. Already, a Ugandan MP is one of the most paid vis-a-vis the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). MPs in Uganda currently earn 25M shillings monthly often broken down into; basic pay, constituency allowance, mileage facilitation, and subsistence allowance among others.
Additionally, each MP is also entitled to an official car, which costs over 103mn each, 30% of their pay as monthly gratuity, an IPad, sitting allowances for committee and plenary, perdiems for inland and abroad travels etc. With the number of MPs currently burgeoning at 458, this kind of expenditure is extremely unsustainable. Uganda taxpayers will have to pay 11.4B monthly as pay and allowances for MPs, 47.1B to finance new vehicles for MPs, and 1.1B for new IPads. This means that over 59.1B will be spent on MPs in the first month of the 10th Parliament.
It’s ironical and hard to imagine that MPs can increase their salaries with ease as other public servants like teachers and doctors continue earning dismally. In essence, 59.1B can pay 1,104 doctors for a whole year, each earning 1.2M. This money can also pay 17,943 primary school teachers for an entire year. This money can also extend medicines to hospitals, build better health facilities, and improve teacher’s welfare among other things.
Already, Uganda’s parliament is too huge compared to the population size and economy. For instance Tanzania with 49.25million people, has 356 MPs, Kenya, with a population of 46.44million, has 349 members in the national assembly and 67 members in the senate. South Africa, with a population of 53million, has a national assembly of 400 members and National Council of Provinces of 90 members and Nigeria, with a population of 174 million, has 360 members in the House of Representatives and 109 members in the senate.
All these countries are bigger than Uganda in terms of land mass and have a superior GDP than Uganda. For instance Kenya has a GDP of $60B, Tanzania $48B, South Africa $350B and Nigeria $568B. Uganda’s GDP is just $26B. There is therefore no justification for having such a huge Parliament, and paying MPs too much money.
Previous media reports have shown that most MPs don’t attend plenary and committee sessions. In fact some parliamentary business has quite often been halted due to lack of quorum. MPs are also mandated to monitor and bring to the attention of the Executive any misuse of government funds, violations of rule of law and unlawful activities in their constituencies, but citizens have constantly argued that after being elected in power, many of the MPs hardly go back to their constituencies.
Last year, in a petition filed by Wilson Mwesigye, the Constitutional Court ruled that it is illegal for MPs to determine their own emoluments. The court ruled that much as MPs may debate their pay, the proposal has to be originated by Government.
This kind of arrangement is also erroneous since some MPs especially Ministers are part of the Executive as well. The Executive determining the pay for MPs is also untenable since it violates the principle of separation of power and can be used as a bargaining chip by the Executive to exert unnecessary influence on MPs. Salaries for MPs should be determined by an independent Salaries and Remunerations Board.
We identify with the statement made by H.E the President, who made it clear that there would be no salary increments for civil servants or MPs for the coming five years and that adhering to it would be the ultimate test of their patriotism.