A pleasant welcome awaits the freshly elected and re-elected members of parliament in an envelope containing nearly $100K which they don’t even need to account for.
The minister of finance Matia Kasaija is hunting for shillings 165 billion to avail Parliament for giving each MP a motor vehicle allowance in the 11th Parliament. Divided by the 514 MPs, each will be pocketing 321million shillings since there are no implementation costs for the ‘programme’.
The item of Cars for new MPs is captured in the budget framework paper for the 2021/2022 financial year as one of the critical but unfunded priorities. The other unfunded priority in the next budget is compensation for cattle in Acholi, Lango and Teso.
But Minister Kasaija is determined to put a smile on the faces of fellow MPs who have been battered on the gruelling scientific campaign trail.
He told URN last night that even if the 165 billion expenditure for cars is not yet funded, the money will have to be availed because the MPs need transport, especially the first termers.
According to the budget framework paper for the 2021/2022 financial year there are budgetary pressures that government is facing totalling to 5.99 trillion shillings. However after review of the pressures government, says the critical funding areas will require 3.19 trillion shillings next financial year.
Among the critical pressures is the classified equipment project under ministry of defence requiring 1.026 trillion shillings which has been fully provided under the proposed allocations, Uganda National Oil Company Capitalization (UNOC) requiring 539.9bn shillings of which 100.6bn shillings has been indicated under the proposed allocations and Salaries Pensions and Gratuity requiring 492.4bn shillings of which 170.1bn shillings has been proposed under the budget estimates.
The critical areas which remain fully unfunded under the proposed allocations are the recurring supplementary from the current financial year requiring 388.6bn shillings, compensation for cattle in Acholi, Lango and Teso requiring 200bn shillings, counterpart funding for the Uganda Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers Program requiring 381.5bn shillings and vehicles for new members of parliament requiring 165bn shillings.
In the 10th Parliament government spent nearly 110bn shillings on motor vehicle funds awarded to MPs. The money was released in two instalments with MPs getting 100m shillings each in October 2016 following a release of 64.5bn shillings, MPs were to get an additional 100m each following release of 45.8billion shillings in June 2017.
The 11th parliament is set to see the amount spent on the MPs’ car allowance rise by 55bn shillings to 165bn shillings owing to an increase in number of MPs from 448 to 514. This translates into a cash out of 321m shillings per MP. There are no costs involved in this implementing the MPs’ car ‘programme’ as the money is simply wired to MPs to spend as each chooses. When the (new) MP are undergoing orientation, car dealer swamp the premises offering ‘bargain’ deals to the members, but there are no conditions, standards or guidelines for the MPs to follow and one can even choose not to buy a car. Some in the 9th and 10th Parliament bought an ambulance of their constituency with (part of) the money.
The budget framework paper says that the priorities that have not been covered or partially covered will be funded through tax policy and administrative measures that are still under review and the process is expected to be complete by the end of January 2021.
When asked how much each MP will be entitled to and whether it was indeed 321m shillings Kasaija said that that figure will have to be determined by the Parliamentary Commission on which he himself sits. This may however be seen by State House as defying a warning made by President Yoweri Museveni during his victory speech following his triumph in the 2021 presidential. Museveni warned MPs against extravagance and wasteful expenditure and warned them against increasing their allowances and emoluments