Members of Parliament have expressed dissatisfaction over budget cuts that have slowed their committee work to the detriment of taxpayers. The lawmakers said that whereas budget cuts were occasioned by the Covid19 outbreak, there is an urgent need to review the national budget and consider significant funding for Parliament committee work.
In the 2020/21 financial year, budget cuts were imposed on several Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies as a measure to reduce public expenditure and allocate more money to fighting the Covid19 pandemic and resuscitating the economy that had taken a nosedive.
In a plenary session chaired by Deputy Speaker, Anita Among, the Bukooli County MP, Solomon Silwany, noted that committees were unable to travel around the country to help shape their findings and reports because they do not have funds.
“These committees cannot fast-track their work involving benchmarking or doing other oversight activities because the Ministry of Finance cut their budgets,” he stated.
Silwany added that it makes no sense for the Government to continue its work when it is not being supervised by Parliamentary committees that have constrained budgets. Among responded in agreement with Silwany saying that Parliament plays a vital function in facilitating
government by processing its business.
“We do oversight work on the Executive and Judiciary and if you cannot facilitate us to do the work, then why
are we here? You need the bills and reports but you are not facilitating Parliament, you need to help us to
help you”, said Among.
Jonathan Odur the Erute County South MP noted that there is a tendency by the front bench to come to Parliament and respond to issues casually and when a motion is passed no is action taken. He further told the House that the Judiciary was suffering the same predicament as Parliament.
Keefa Kiwanuka the Kiboga East County MP said that Committees, for example, that of Finance, are unable to travel for fact find which has left most of its pending work given the meager budget left. “For us to travel, it would mean that some of the members would have to stay behind, which is unacceptable
to the Members,” Keefa added.
The Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, Ruth Nankabirwa told the house that the budget cuts were affecting all government agencies and ministries.
“Ministries like mine had their budgets reduced by about 40% therefore, this means that this matter is affecting everyone and not just Parliament,” she said. In response Among told her that the issues of Parliament are different from the ministries and thus the two cannot be compared.