Parliament will spend over Shs 64 billion on the purchase of vehicles for MPs of the 10th Parliament. Each of the 427 Members of Parliament will receive an allocation of Shs 150 million according to a budget outline by the Parliamentary Commission.
The figure is up from Shs 38.6 billion spent on vehicles in the 9th Parliament that had a total of 375 members. Each vehicle for an MP in the 9th parliament cost Shs 103 million.
Chris Obore, the director of information at Parliament, said the funds will be released regardless of on going petitions against some members. Initial reports indicated that the money would be held until courts dispose off all electoral petitions. Up to 118 petitions were filed against Members of Parliament in the aftermath of the 2016 parliamentary election.
But Obore said that Parliament cannot deny legislators their benefits because of pending petitions.
"We shall give the MPs what is due to them. We can't stop paying MPs money for vehicles and other emoluments because of petitions in court", Obore said.
"I can assure you there is no way the Parliamentary Commission can do that because MPs are not children. The money is not available now for those vehicles and you can crosscheck from the budget paper that Parliament submitted to ministry of Finance. Releases come from ministry Finance. If there was money on the Parliamentary Commission account, you can verify from ministry of Finance. As of now, government has even sent a warranty that allows people to start the financial year. So what will the commission hold, what?! So that is still speculation. You can't hold an entitlement and then expect to represent people"
On the likely loss to be met by the taxpayers when an MP who has already received money for the vehicle loses a seat, Obore said that the duty of the Parliamentary Commission is to take care of the welfare of MPs and staff and that only the law can enable the commission to reduce loses and recover vehicles once an MP loses a seat.
Obore added that iPads will be given to every MP who is on the Clerk's record in two weeks' time regardless whether they have election petitions against them or not.
"The money that will be easily available quickly is the money for iPads and they will be given each of them. When they get kicked out, they get it as MPs. The difference now here is that, the iPad will be returned because it doesn't belong to an MP as entitlements. It is property of the parliamentary commission. So to alley your worries three [iPads] were returned, the rest we chopped their money; Shs 500,0000 from each. So, your worry of saying that they will go with iPads is allayed because we shall recover because it is not property of the MP. It is just given to facilitate the work", he added.
Amolatar Woman MP, Doreen Ruth Amule said that the delayed payment of the vehicle allowance is stressing new MPs who have not had cars before since they have no means of transport.
"But also in financial control, you know in the previous experience in the 9th Parliamentary there were members who had court cases and they were facilitated with this money to buy cars and you know this is something, which is not refundable. So if Parliament felt so, it would be wise but I would think, the best way is to handle first come, first serve in terms of those who are cleared [of election petitions]. Those who are cleared should be facilitated because they don't have any issue as to why they should wait. But those who have pending cases then they should also be given in the second shift", she said.