Parliament — Government is studying four more towns for possible elevation to city status, a move that would increase the number of new cities to 13, the Minister of Local Government, Col Tom Butime, has said.
The proposed municipalities are Masaka, Moroto, Soroti and Nakasongola.
While appearing before the parliamentary committee on Public Service and Local Government on Friday, Col Butime said when the studies are concluded, a Cabinet paper will be prepared and presented for possible approval.
Government has already proposed Gulu, Arua, Lira, Mbale, Jinja, Entebbe, Hoima, Mbarara and Fort Portal municipalities for elevation. Parliament is yet to approve them.
Col Butime was presenting the ministerial policy statement for the Financial Year 2019/20.
Mr Stephen Birahwa Mukitale (Buliisa, NRM) suggested that Hoima be operationalised first because of the developments in the oil and gas sector.
"As the people of Bunyoro, we want government to fast track the city model based on national interest. Hoima city should come first because of the ongoing developments. Next year, the airport (Kabaale International Airport) will be completed and this year many companies are arriving in Hoima," Mr Mukitale said.
Mr Mathias Mpuuga (Masaka Municipality, DP) wondered why Masaka is not being considered even when it has more potential than some towns.
"Masaka is one of the first 10 municipalities in this country and it has facilities. The minister has to give the people of Masaka an explanation because they need to be given an opportunity. Which superior qualities do these municipalities have that Masaka doesn't have?" he asked.
Mr Mpuuga said Lwengo and Kalungu district councils have already approved the annexing of one sub-county each to Masaka municipality if it is elevated to a city status.
Col Butime said Cabinet is yet to decide on the sequencing of the operationalisation of the new cities, adding that Parliament will be "satisfied" with the outcome of the process.
He also said the application for Masaka to be elevated to a city status came three months ago.
Meanwhile, the Uganda Local Government Association (ULGA) has appealed to Parliament to support their demand for the enhancement of salaries of chief administrative officers (CAOs), district chairpersons and municipal mayors, among others, in the next financial year.
Mr Joseph Lomonyang, the Napak chairperson and president elect of ULGA, said they want government to raise their salary from Shs2.3m to Shs7.5m, vice chairpersons (Shs1.1m to Shs2.5m) and municipal mayors (Shs1.1m to Shs1.5m).
The association also presented a proposal to enhance salaries of CAOs from Shs2.3m to Shs13.5m.
In a policy statement presented by Mr Ben Kumumanya, the Permanent Secretary of the Local Government, the ministry is seeking Shs24.7b to buy motorcycles for sub-county chiefs, Shs22.6b for village chairpersons' bicycles and Shs3.1b for bicycles of parish chiefs.