Ministerial Statements were not tabled before Parliament on Thursday after several government ministers failed to attend plenary due to a downpour in Kampala.
With what has continued to be a norm by both Ministers and MPs absconding from Parliament, ministerial policy statements were not tabled due to failure by Ministers to attend plenary yet again.
After being tabled on the floor of the house, the policy statements are referred to appropriate committees for action for the budget process to start.
Statements were expected from the Ministries of Water and Environment, Information and Communications Technology, Health, Lands, East African Community Affairs and Internal Affairs.
Others are Office of the Prime Minister and Energy and Mineral Development ministry which did not present the statements.
It was at this moment that Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo raised a procedural matter as to why the responsible ministers were not in the house yet by the time the order paper was drawn, they had indicated that they would be present or send a representative.
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Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah acknowledged that it was not right and that the ministerial statements had come late since the deadline for their presentation, on June 30, had passed. He then demanded for an explanation from government.
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But this too failed as there was no Leader of Government Business in the House either. In order of rank the leaders of government business in the house include Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, and his deputies, Moses Ali and Henry Kajura.
John Nasasira, the Minister for Gender apologised on behalf of government explaining that some of his colleagues might have been delayed because of the rain. Nasasira, the former government Chief Whip, showed members his coat which he said had been drenched by the rain to which the Oulanyah wondered if the Ministers when rained on are dissoluble.
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Kateera County MP Hatwibu Katoto then reminded Nasasira that Parliament allocated all MPs money to buy vehicles.
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Kalungu East MP Ssewungu Gonzaga, who is also a member of the Education Committee, noted that the purpose of laying the documents early is to give legislators time to read and internalize them. He lamented that some ministers intentionally delay the reports so that they can be passed hurriedly without proper scrutiny and appealed to the leader of government business to talk to the ministers.
Speaker Oulanyah noted that Parliament has a time frame and the opposition is given up to the 15th of the month to make responses to the presentations. He stated that the unnecessary delay means the process cannot be completed by f August 31st. He ruled that all statements should have been laid by the end of Parliament business today and the time would not be extended.
On Tuesday this week, Government Chief Whip Justine Kasule Lumumba threatened to name and shame ministers who dodge parliamentary sessions, describing their act as the highest form of corruption yet they expect to get paid. Lumumba said the NRM would come up with a new mechanism to monitor and evaluate performance of its members in the house.