Accountability Committees Shine in a Largely Quiet Parliament

The committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises COSASE helped the government to recover 32 billion Shillings from four Chinese companies that were irregularly profiteering from the money. The money was part of the 47.7 billion Shillings that Uganda National Roads Authority UNRA had advanced to the companies to compensate people affected by road construction projects.

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Parliament's four Accountability Committees were the shining armour in the first 150 days of the Tenth Parliament.


The committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) helped the government to recover 32 billion Shillings from four Chinese companies that were irregularly profiteering from the money.


The money was part of the 47.7 billion Shillings that Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) had advanced to the companies to compensate Project Affected Persons (PAPS). PAPS is used to categorise people affected or displaced by numerous road construction projects.


The committee chaired by Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu demanded that the money be refunded after learning of the trading business which was not part of the contract with UNRA.


The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has also been following up on queries raised by the Auditor General in the Health Sector, particularly the health ministry and referral hospitals.


PAC Vice Chairperson Gerald Karuhanga told URN that the biggest challenge established by his committee in the health sector is management.


//Cue in: "The health sector...

Cue's very unbelievable."//


MP Karuhanga said that his committee is in the process of writing a report on the health and other sectors which he said will be tabled in the second session of parliament that starts on November 14th.


//Cue in: "We are going...

Cue out:...upon our reports."//


The Local Government Accounts Committee (LGAC) took the approach of going out to the districts to interface with public officials and the public.


By the close of the first session of the 10th parliament, the committee chaired by Aswa County MP Reagan Okumu had questioned a number of local government leaders on different queries raised by the Auditor General.


Also some sectoral committees such as those of Natural Resources and Health have been seen working. 


The Natural Resources committee chaired by Isingiro South MP Alex Byarugaba has been vocal on illegal sand mining in Lwera swamp in Mpigi district, while the Health committee has been visiting a number of health facilities.


From May to August, 2016, there is little to talk about in the first session of the 10th parliament apart from swearing in of MPs, election of Speaker and Deputy Speaker, delivery of the State of the Nation Address by President Yoweri Museveni, and reading of the 2016/2017 budget among others.


Business on the floor of parliament has not been at its best with issues of absentee ministers and absence of government business to parliament at play. Legislators mostly used the afternoon plenary sittings to raise matters of national importance from their constituencies, demand for entitlements like vehicles, Ipads and others.


Matters raised by MPs were responded to in ministerial statements on the floor and also during the Prime Minister's question time every Wednesday.


A document from Emmanuel Bakwega, the director clerk's department at parliament, indicates that 29 ministerial policy statements were presented by ministers while Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda answered 98 questions in four sittings of the House.


The document also highlights that 19 motions were presented to parliament. Out of these; one motion on government borrowing was passed. The motion was on the the proposal to borrow up to 150 million US Dollars from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank to support the Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACP).


Also highlighted are two tributes made, two petitions presented, four statements by MPs and personal explanation, three reports from delegations abroad tabled, while seven auditor general reports and opinions were tabled by commissioners of parliament.


On October 5, government tabled only eight bills on the floor of parliament. Five of them had not been handled by the Ninth parliament while three were part of the 29 bills listed by President Yoweri Museveni as part of the business that government would present in the first session parliament.


The re-introduced bills included The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Treaty (Implementation) Bill, 2016, The Anti-Counterfeiting Goods Bill, 2015, The Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Bill, 2015, The Mental Health Bill, 2014 and The Indigenous and Complementary Medicine Bill, 2015.


Part of the listed bills by President Museveni so far presented includes The Uganda Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2016, The Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and The Data Protection and Privacy Bill, 2015.


The remaining 26 bills as promised by the president include The Agriculture Extension Bill, The Amendment of the NAADS Act, 2001, The Amendment of the Universities and other Tertiary Institution Act (2011), The Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, The National Coffee Bill, The Uganda Construction Industry Commission (UCICO) Bill, The Engineers Registration Act (Amendment) Bill among others.


Also on the list are The Roads Act (Amendment) Bill, The Foreign Service Bill, The Uganda Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs Bill, The Overseas Properties and Immunities Bill, 2010, The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2016, The Administration of the Judiciary Bill, 2016, The Geneva Conventions (Amendment) Bill, 2016, The Uganda National Examination Board (UNEB) Amendment Bill and others.


Others are The National Legal Aid Bill, 2015, The Uganda Wildlife Amendment Bill, The Uganda Land Commission Bill, The Landlord-Tenant Bill, The NEMA Act (Amendment) Bill, The Climate Change Bill, The Water Act (Amendment) Bill, The Consumer Protection Bill, The New Sugar Bill, The National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) Amendment Bill, The Physical Activity and Sports (PAS) Bill.

In comparison, the first session of the Ninth parliament passed 11 bills, adopted 42 resolutions and 25 reports and concluded 1 petition. The same session received 35 ministerial statements, 15 statements by MPs and personal explanations and seven questions for oral answers were responded to.