Breaking

MPs Reject Amendments In Public Finance Bill

Members of Parliament on the budget committee have rejected the Public Finance Bill currently before parliament saying it does not cater for the budget process.
Members of Parliament on the budget committee have rejected the Public Finance Bill currently before parliament saying it does not cater for the budget process.

 

After receiving the Bill, the committee members had asked the parliamentary budget office to study the implications of the proposed law on the budget process and report back to the committee.  The bill seeks to repeal among other laws the Budget Act of 2001.

 

The parliamentary budget office director Samuel Wanyaka on Wednesday told the committee that the bill is not good for the budget process saying that the budget process cannot be combined with public finance management.

 

In his presentation, Wanyaka said repealing the Budget Act 2001 as proposed in the bill would require a long process of amending the constitution since the Act is provided for under Article 55 (6) of the constitution.

 

He further said that the fact that the movers of the bill have introduced over 60 amendments in the bill at committee level is evidence that they were not ready at the time of presenting the bill, hence did not fully appreciate the implications of the proposed law.

 

The Ministry of Finance recently amended 55 clauses of the bill and introduced 14 new clauses which the MPs say make it a new bill altogether.

 

Wanyaka also said that merging the two roles of the budget and those of public financial management as proposed in the bill is legally and technically untenable. He argued that it is not possible to have parliament structures in an executive law and urged parliament not to allow the fusion of the executive and legislative functions.

 

He told the committee to take their time and study the proposed law carefully saying that key provisions that empower parliament are not accommodated in the Public Finance Bill.

 

Wanyaka said the proposed law reduces parliament’s scrutiny of the national budget adding that the law if passed will strengthen the powers of the minister and weaken parliament.

 

He added that there is no way parliament will carry out its oversight role of sanctioning for non-compliance when the person it is supposed to oversee– the minster—is more powerful than it is.

 

The budget officer recommends that instead of embedding them in one law, the different laws should be amended and a new oil revenue collection management law be enacted and all laws be compiled in a compendium of financial laws.  

 

Committee chairperson Tim Lwanga said his committee does not agree with the bill adding that the budget process is not related to public financial management.  He added that the committee will work hard to ensure the Budget Act stays adding that the committee will welcome any amendments to the act but not repeal. 

 

The public finance bill was tabled in parliament in February 2012 and Speaker Rebecca Kadaga assigned three committees of Finance, Budget and the Natural Resources the duty of reviewing the bill before it is passed.

  

Keywords