Uganda: Crowded Agenda As Parliament Resumes

31 October 2019

Parliament — The next two months are expected to be a beehive of activities in Parliament as legislators seek to complete significant business ahead of the Christmas break.

The MPs, who are in the second quarter of the fourth session, returned yesterday from a one-month recess handed to them after Parliament hosted the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC) in Kampala last month.

The fifth session will be dominated by campaigns and general election.

Ms Hellen Kawesa, the acting spokesperson for Parliament, yesterday said the Business Committee had already sat to generate business that will be handled when the MPs return for plenary this afternoon.

"Yes, there will be plenary tomorrow [today] and the Order Paper is already out," Ms Kawesa said. She said the House is expected to sit until the third week of December when MPs will leave for Christmas break.

"We will go for New Year recess around the third week of December up to around late January or early February 2020," Ms Kawesa said.

Daily Monitor saw a copy of the Order Paper comprising at least 20 items.

Key among the items for discussions are five ministerial statements, 22 responses by ministers to issues raised by MPs over the past few months and three Bills ready for second reading.

Finance minister Matia Kasaija is expected to present a statement in Parliament on the financing modalities for construction of the Kampala-Jinja Expressway. Before Parliament went for recess, legislators had questioned why government wants one of Uganda's busiest roads constructed under the road tolling system.

Mr Kasaija is also expected to table a statement on the tax expenditure for the July-September period whereas Lands minister Betty Amongi will be presenting findings of the verification team who went to London regarding the boundary dispute between Tororo and West Budama counties.

Ms Amongi led a 10-member delegation to London in January last year to verify with colonial maps the exact location of the contested boundary has pitted the Iteso against the Jopadhola.

Bills

Controversy is expected to ensue in the House when the Private Member's Bill titled 'Administration of Parliament Amendment Bill' comes up for second reading this afternoon.

In the Bill, the dean of Independents, Mr Andrew Baryayanga (Kabale Municipality), and Busiro East MP Medard Lubega Sseggona, want the Leader of the Opposition to be elected instead of being chosen by the Opposition party with majority MPs in Parliament.

Other Bills expected for the second reading today are the Institute of Parliamentary Studies Amendment Bill, 2019, and Administration of Judiciary Bill, 2019, which is a government business.

On the Order Paper, there are also 13 motions, among them a government request to borrow $456.3m (Shs16.8 trillion) to finance the construction of five oil roads in Bunyoro. The other is a request to extend the district quota policy for government scholarships to lower institutions of learning; and reconsideration of the Sugar Bill, 2019, which was returned by the President early this year.

Meanwhile, the different committees of Parliament have a list of legislations they are currently processing. Prominent among them are the five electoral reforms Bills tabled by government in August.

Mr Sam Bitangaro (Bufumbira South (NRM) yesterday said the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, for which he is vice chairperson, has finished processing the five Bills and a report will be presented to the House soon.

"By the time we went for recess, all consultations had been finished and we had a draft report. We are left with one sitting to write a final report that we will present on the floor of the House soon," Mr Bitangaro said.

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