Parliamentary Commissioner, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, has told URN that there are no costs incurred on special sittings since legislatorsâ€™ earnings are not pegged on attendance. He says a special sitting is no different from any other session of parliament and it is the MPsâ€™ obligation to attend without any payment other than their monthly remuneration, unlike committee sessions where MPs are paid per sitting.
While some MPs argue that recalling parliament from recess is costly, it has been revealed that the House doesn’t incur extra costs on special sittings.
Parliamentary Commissioner, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, has told URN that there are no costs incurred on special sittings since legislators’ earnings are not pegged on attendance.
He says that a special sitting is no different from any other session of parliament and it is the MPs’ obligation to attend without any payment other than their monthly remuneration. He said that unlike committee sessions where MPs are paid per sitting, no costs would be incurred if parliament is recalled from recess to discuss what some MPs call an attack on the independence of the House by the Executive.
Legislators pushing for the recall of Parliament on Monday finally submitted their petition to Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga’s office, and now wait for her decision on the matter within 21 days. The latest development, the second time that the 9th Parliament would be recalled from recess after the October 2011 special oil debate, stems from the confusion that followed the sudden death of Butaleja Woman MP, Cerinah Nebanda, three weeks ago.
President Yoweri Museveni has openly opposed recalling of Parliament arguing that there is no reason for it since Nebanda “died in criminal circumstances and the police is investigating the matter.” He reportedly told Kadaga and his deputy Jacob Oulanyah in a meeting at his country home in Rwakitura, Kiruhura District, that parliament would only be recalled over his dead body and his party leadership has gone ahead to persuade and intimidate members not to sign the petition to recall the House.
The members leading the petition were wondering why the President is worried about the special sitting saying that it will be a sitting like any other sitting of parliament.
One of the lead petitions, Ajuri county MP Denis Hamson Obua, said he does not know what the president is afraid of because they are just petitioning to discuss an urgent issue which can’t wait for February when parliament is scheduled to reconvene.
He says the petition is not about impeaching President Museveni so he should let them do the duty that the constitution requires them to do.
The MPs who are loyal to the president and the NRM have laboured to explain why the party is against recalling parliament saying that it is costly and would further over-burden on the tax payer.
While addressing a press conference on Jan 3, the members led by minister without portfolio Richard Todwong said recalling parliament was unnecessary and would throw parliament into avoidable costs.
Parliament has been at loggerheads with the president since Dec 24th when some members of parliament were arrested over the remarks they made following the death of Nebanda.
The legislators, who had earlier seemed to disagree with the police investigation into the 24-year-old legislator’s death, said that the arrest of MPs was total contempt of parliament by the Executive. They therefore kicked off an exercise to collect signatures to petition the Speaker to recall the house from recess to discuss the doctrine of separation of powers.
According to Article 95 (5) of the constitution and rule 23 of the parliamentary rules of procedure, parliament can only be recalled if a petition signed by at least one third of the members is presented to the speaker.