16 May 2019

Uganda: Kadaga Vows to Block Free OTT, Internet for MPs

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(file photo).

Parliament — Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has vowed to block the decision by Parliament's Contracts Committee to use taxpayers' money to give free Over the Top Services (OTT) and internet data to MPs in the 10th Parliament.

The Speaker made the remarks on Thursday shortly after meeting with members of the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association, an umbrella body for journalists who cover Parliament.

Ms Kadaga said the decision by the Contracts Committee to award a deal to MTN Uganda to supply free internet and OTT services to MPs will have to be scrutinised afresh, on grounds that MPs should be in position to pay for the services as part of their legislative duties.

She also said the controversial decision was made by the Contracts Committee of Parliament and not the Parliamentary Commission. However, it's not clear whether the Parliamentary Commission was consulted or not.

"I am glad you are saying it is Contracts Committee. I haven't seen the agreement but I don't believe that the public should pay OTT for MPs. I don't support it," Ms Kadaga said.

She added: "I don't agree with that decision and I am going to investigate who took that decision and if there is a contract, we will have to scrutinise it because I don't believe tax payers should pay MPs' taxes, that is our duty because we are carrying out our duties."

Daily Monitor reported on Wednesday that Parliament had taken a decision to spend up to Shs198m, worth of taxpayers' money to pay internet data and social media tax for the 458 MPs in 10th Parliament.

The MPs already enjoy free fuel, free medical insurance, free breakfast, free lunch and other benefits.

MTN, in a restricted domestic bid, won the tender with a contract expected to be signed before end of May.

The public has already raised reservations with many critics lashing out at MPs of acting in a selfish manner, at the pain of tax payers.

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