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MPs Seek AG's Opinion on Local Content Bill

The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee has directed the Attorney General, William Byaruhanga to give an opinion on whether the proposed National Local Content Bill, 2019 conflicts with the regional Protocol.
Patrick Nsamba Oshabe the Kassanda South together with Butoko South, Muyanja Mbabali appearing before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.

Audio 6

The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee has directed the Attorney General, William Byaruhanga to give an opinion on whether the proposed National Local Content Bill, 2019 conflicts with the regional Protocol.

The objective of the Bill is to guarantee priority and exclusive use of locally manufactured goods and services in all projects where the government is a party.

The mover of the Bill, Patrick Nsamba Oshabe representing Kassanda South together with Butoko South, Muyanja Mbabali had on Thursday appeared before the committee to justify their Private Members' Bill. The bill was last month given a green light by Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga without a Certificate of Financial Implications.

This was after the Finance Ministry failed to conform to the 60 days stipulated under the Parliament Rules of Procedure for the Certificate to be issued from the date of its request.

As the Legal Committee started the process of considering the Bill, the Committee Vice-Chairperson Sam Bitangaro sought for a certificate of the Certificate of Financial Implication.

However, Nsamba explained that the Finance Ministry had not offered a Certificate also highlighting a letter from Finance Minister Matia Kasaija indicating that the Bill was a duplicate of guidelines they were developing and that it was also in contravention of provisions in the East African Community (EAC) protocol.

The letter addressed to the Clerk of Parliament, Jane Kibirige dated 19th September, 2018 notes that the Bill has provisions that are contrary to the EAC protocols on the Common Market and that while some of the partner states have not followed the protocols, it may not be appropriate for Uganda to explicitly come up with a legal framework that defines the protocols.

“With the exception of Clause 20-23 and 62-65, ninety (90) percent of the content of the proposed Bill that relates to Public Sector Procurement is already provided for in the current legal framework-PPDA Act 2003 as Amended,” reads Kasaija's letter.

He further says that the Bill is a replica of the current guidelines of the PPDA Act 2003 Section 59 (b), 2 which guidelines Kasaija says are being amended into regulations on reservation schemes to promote Local Content in public procurement.

“Furthermore, issues regarding public procurement fall under the jurisdiction of my Ministry, therefore, we are unable to issue a Certificate of Financial Implications,” Kasaija concludes.

Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa said that the committee needed to interrogate statements by Kasaija especially concerning the Bill conflicting with the EAC protocol.

He argued that the Bill is in conflict with the protocol and that the committee cannot continue with it since international laws are supreme to municipal or domestic lawsand that a State cannot use a domestic law to avoid its obligations under international law.

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However, Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda appealed to the MPs to give Nsamba an opportunity to make his presentation on the Bill.

Bitangaro agreed that the Bill was properly before his committee but that he had not acquainted himself with the issues raised by Kasaija in his letter. He then directed that the committee clerk writes to the Attorney General seeking for provisions in the EAC protocol which the Bill is offending before they go any further.  

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But Ssemujju objected saying that the same letter by Minister Kasaija had been presented before parliament and the Speaker ruled that the Bill should be considered.

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Ajuri County MP Hamson Obua also agreed with Bitangaro's ruling saying that it was only proper for the committee to first ascertain whether they are proceeding well with the Bill or not.

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Ssemujju insisted that it was only proper to proceed with the Bill since it was clear that government was not interested in the Bill.

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Bitangaro maintained that his committee first gets the legal opinion from the Attorney General with MP Nsamba conceding.

Luganda

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