Uganda: FDC Asks Govt to Stop Buying Cars for MPs

The Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party has asked the government to stop giving each Member of Parliament Shs200 million for purchasing cars and instead give MPs car loans.

Government last week dished out Shs200 million to 529 MPs and 26 ex-officials to buy cars, something that has since sparked public outrage among members of the public, who argue that the timing is wrong given the Covid-19 pandemic.

Addressing journalists at their party offices in Najjanankumbi yesterday, FDC spokesperson Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, who is also the MP for Kira Municipality, said there is need to abolish the policy of giving legislators free money to buy cars because it is costly.

"FDC wants this policy abolished. Instead, MPs should be facilitated with interest-free loans to buy vehicles of their needs. This money should be deducted from their allowances and monthly salaries, "Mr Ssemujju said.

"The idea of free vehicles or money is very costly to a needy country such as Uganda where the size of Parliament keeps growing. Maybe If they were 50 MPs, but a whole 529 MPs is a luxury," Mr Ssemujju added.

According to Mr Ssemujju, Rwanda stopped giving MPs free cars and Uganda should borrow a leaf and divert the money to other important things.

Mr Ssemujju also stressed that the government should not give free cars to public servants whom he said should also be given interest-free loans to buy them.

This is not the first time FDC is criticising the government move on MPs' vehicles. During the 10th Parliament, Mr Ssemujju, who was then the Opposition Chief Whip, moved a motion stopping the government from buying its employees cars.

The then Minister of Public Service, Mr Muruli Mukasa, took over the issue on the grounds that he was going to consult and study the proposals.

Mr Ssemujju yesterday said he is going to follow up with Mr Muruli on how far he had gone with the consultations and re-table another motion in Parliament.

When asked whether FDC is going to force its members to return the money, Mr Ssemujju said the decision remains personal.

The Kira legislator was among the 16 MPs who returned the money during the 10th Parliament.

The director of communications at Parliament, Mr Chris Obore, last week said the money is part of the entitlements of all MPs.

"That is true. We got a release to give members their money which you know is a ritual that each member has to be given money to buy a car. There is nothing to hide there. It is given once in a five-year period," Mr Obore said.

In 2016, the lawmakers in the 10th Parliament also received advancement to facilitate them in purchasing the cars.

The FDC has also asked the government to lift the lockdown on Thursday when the 42-day timeframe ends.

"In principle, we supported the lockdown, which is the temporary measure to slow down the spread of corona, but We don't support this temporary measure becoming permanent. Mr Museveni must relax the lockdown to allow citizens access workplaces," Mr Ssemujju said, adding that the government should purchase more vaccines for the population.

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