Parliament on Thursday approved, without debate, the creation of 46 new constituencies bringing to 353, the number of directly elected MPs to sit in the 12th Parliament.
These added to representatives of the special interest groups namely, the Youths, Women, Workers, People with Disabilities and the Army, the number of MPs will shoot up to 522, about 13 seats shy of the U.S Congress.
And if Parliament considers a motion to create special representation for the elderly persons, the number will grow to 527; eight seats less than the U.S Congress that comprises 535 House Representatives.
Local Government Minister Raphael Magyezi moved Parliament to pass the 31 new constituencies that were approved by cabinet on Monday in addition bringing forward the commencement date for the cities of Lira, Soroti and Hoima to July 1, 2020, joining the list six other cities namely, Jinja, Masaka, Mbale, Mbarara, Arua and Gulu that became operational at the beginning of the month. Each of the cities comes with an additional three parliamentary seats plus Nakawa West which has been carved out of Kampala’s Nakawa Division.
The 31 new constituencies (counties) approved by cabinet include: Kapere (Ngora district),Butiru (Manafwa)Kyoga North (Amolatar),Napero West (Karenga),Bukora East (Napak),Nwoya East (Nwoya),Namayingo South (Namayingo),Elgon North (Bulambuli) Samya Bugwe South (Busia) and Mawogola West (Sembabule).
Others are; Otuke East (Otuke),Ruhama East (Ntungamo),Isingiro West (Isingiro),Two county (Bukwo),Okyero (Kaberamaido),Soy (Kween),Namisindwa (Namisindwa),Gweli (Soroti),Pingire (Serere),Bukonko central (Mbale),Aringa East (Yumbe),Kyaka Central (Kyegegwa),Ruhinda South (Mitooma),Kyigai (Bududa),Gogonya (Palisa),Busiki North (Namutumba),Maruzi North (Apac),Rwampara East (Rwampara),Bugangahizi (Kikuube),West Budama North East (Tororo) and Dodoth North (Kaabong).
Government’s motivation in creating the new constituencies is in “the need to extend services nearer the people and effective representation necessitates the need to create new counties.”
But the additional seats in Parliament could translate into additional burden to the taxpayer as the cost of maintaining the legislators will shoot up.
For instance, about Shs 92.4 billion was spent on buying cars for each of the 462 MPs in the current Parliament. If the same amount of Shs 200 million is maintained, Shs 1.05 trillion will be spent buying cars for members of the 12th Parliament.
Magyezi backed up his motion for the new constituencies with a certificate of financial implication, confirming the government’s readiness to meet the additional costs.