Uganda: Finance Accused of Frustrating Bill On Constitution Amendments

11 October 2019

Ndorwa East Member of Parliament Wilfred Niwagaba (Independent) may wait a little longer to table the proposals through which the Opposition is seeking amendments to the Constitution that would lead to changes in the setup of government.

Mr Niwagaba, who is also the shadow attorney general, was on September 4 granted leave of Parliament to introduce a Private Member's Bill but he is yet to take it back to the House for the first reading because government is yet to issue a certificate of financial implication (CFI).

"No one is willing to give me the certificate of financial implication. All the ministers in Finance are not cooperating despite the Clerk to Parliament writing to them. They are doing a disservice to the country by sitting on the request when it is their duty to act," Mr Niwagaba told Daily Monitor yesterday.

The MP said he had hoped to table the Bill as soon as possible, thinking that government would not delay the issuance of CFI.

The Private Member's Bill, if passed by Parliament, would cause a major shakeup in the Executive by repealing the office of the Prime Minister and that of the Vice President, with the two roles being carried out by a deputy president.

The Bill proposes the reduction of the size of government to 21 Cabinet ministers and 21 State ministers who will not be appointed from elected MPs. It also provides for the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General as ex-officios in Parliament, serving a five-year renewable tenure of office.

On top of reintroducing presidential term limits, Mr Niwagaba's Bill proposes the removal of UPDF representatives in Parliament.

Other proposed reforms are: involving the Judicial Service Commission in appointment of the Electoral Commission chairperson, requiring the Public Service Commission to determine salaries and allowances of public officers; allowing any voter to challenge the outcome of presidential elections and changing the name of the Uganda Police Force to Uganda Police Service.

The proposals differ from those made under government's proposed electoral reforms comprised in the five Bills that are now being scrutinised by the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

Daily Monitor has learnt that the Clerk to Parliament, Ms Jane Kibirige, wrote to the Finance ministry permanent secretary, Mr Keith Muhakanizi, on September 18, requesting that the MP be issued with the CFI. Finance ministry spokesperson Jim Mugunga yesterday asked the MP to be patient because the internal processes concerning the issuance of CFI are being taken.

"The matter is under consideration. As soon as our internal processes are done, we shall communicated as appropriate," Mr Mugunga said.

Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah had directed government to accord Mr Niwagaba all the necessary assistance "as soon as possible" to ensure the Bill is read for the first reading.

The legislator said the government issued CFI to Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi on the same day he was granted leave to introduce a Private Member's Bill that led to removal of the presidential age limit from the Constitution in 2017 because they had interest.

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