9 September 2011

Uganda: Legislators Fail to Discuss Budget Committee Report

Conspiracy theories yesterday took centre stage on a day Parliament failed to discuss the Budget Committee report on teachers' salaries.

Committee chairperson Tim Lwanga told the House there weren't enough copies of the report for members, claiming that the printing machines in the House were faulty. However, more than 150 copies had been printed, sources said.

"We have checked our printers they are not faulty, these people lied to the House because of some other hidden agenda we don't understand," Opposition Leader Nandala Mafabi said. "It's a shame to see a whole committee chairperson playing hide-and-seek and peddling lies on the floor of Parliament. The truth is that they found some money for teachers but ... this is unfortunate."

The absence of the report forced Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah to adjourn to today 10am.

Daily Monitor was told that there were disagreements in the drafting of the report. Mr Lwanga disagreed with his committee members after he insisted that there was no money yet more than Shs61b had been identified.

"We tried [to find money] but the chairperson diverted us and I could not understand what he was talking about. They were bringing us ministers to defend their ministry allocations and I think he had special instructions not to find money for teachers," Presidential Affairs Committee Chairperson Barnabas Tinkasiimire said.

Pre-empting debate, Mr Lwanga contacted premier Amama Mbabazi and agreed to resolve the matter at the NRM Caucus. Immediately Mr Oulanyah adjourned the House, NRM lawmakers convened for an impromptu caucus. A copy of the report this newspaper obtained is silent about the teachers' salaries and mentions salaries for public servants in passing.

Mr Oulanyah last week instructed the committee to make sure that "no stone is left unturned" in cutting wasteful expenditure to find money for teachers. Mr Lwanga told reporters yesterday that in order to realise the teachers' increment, "you have to find money in the budget but the money is not there".

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