By Keef Nuwahereza
The Speaker of Parliament Hon. Rebecca Kadaga has spoken out about why all 426 Members of Parliament shared over Shs10Bn, to help them in the fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Kadaga told the media that each MP received Shs20m to help them in sensitization of their constituents about Coronavirus, buy fuel for the ambulances and pay the drivers.
While explaining why Parliament is still operating despite the COVID-19 lockdown, Kadaga, who was appearing on NBS TV on Wednesday said that; “When the lockdown took place we had already started the budget meeting. We can’t shun our roles because of the lockdown. We are working only that we have had to scale down a lot. Over 90% of our staff are working from home.
Working hours for Plenary stop at 5:00 pm due to the curfew. This has affected the way we work and the amount of work we deliver on.”
She added that “The whole of the East African region has to be ready in May to read the budget. Kenya and Tanzania have cut down on their legislators to make sure the budget responsibilities are met.”
The Speaker explained that “When the President announced the lockdown, I had to call some members and take the decision. A few felt we should close. It is a hard decision, but I thought that in the interest of the country. We need to continue doing some work.”
On scaling down the number of sittings, Kadaga said that “Legislators will attend one day a week so that each member gets an opportunity to speak once a week. Plenary sits in a tent due to the physical distancing guidelines.
Commenting about police confiscating bicycle to enforce Presidential Directives, Kadaga said “In the instructions and guidelines, there is a need for clarity. The president said riding bicycles was okay but security people are stopping people with bicycles.
About travelling, I do not think I have looked at how much we have saved. Do you know how civil servants travel? Nobody takes interest in that or even the president’s travels. Everyone looks at parliament because we are the simplest punching bag.
Some of us are taking care of poor people. Formally and informally, the responsibility to take care of some people falls on MPs.”
She noted that “Parliament has surrendered all busses to the Ministry of Health to help in the transportation of health workers. I have supplied water tanks within trading centers in Kamuli.
With this decision, they are undermining the population because they have no plans to distribute the food elsewhere apart from Kampala and Wakiso. I suspect they wanted to solve someone’s financial problem.”
“Every town in this country is affected because we have these jobs distracted across the country. They did not want to listen, they wanted to spend the money.
We need to support our health system because people are still dying because from other diseases.
But for the monies being donated, we shall need accountability. Will they extend the relief food distribution outside Kampala? We should arrange to support the health system and buy more equipment,” the Speaker concluded.
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