Members of Parliament (MPs) have submitted a motion to the Speakers Office, asking Parliament to resolve and direct the Parliamentary Commission to pay subsistence allowance to MPs on the basis of attendance of plenary in the same manner as applicable to the sitting allowance.
On a daily basi,s MPs are roughly paid 230,000 shillings for attendance with or without appearing for plenary. This is on top of the 2.5million that when taxed comes to 1.5 million salary.
MP Paul Mwiru, representing Jinja Municipality and the mover of the motion, said that for avoidance of doubt, Parliament’s resolution shall be necessarily modified not to apply to MPs who are absent with official leave of the Speaker or those on sick leave granted by the Speaker’s office.
Mwiru said that the motion will be moved on the floor of Parliament immediately after the Speaker allocates space for it on the order paper.
The motion is submitted under Rule 47 of the Rules of Procedure and it states “Motion for a Resolution of Parliament on the Payment of Emolument of Members of Parliament.
Mwiru argues that with over 375 MPs in the ninth parliament, there has not been a time when more than 175 MPs have signed in the attendance book for a plenary sitting and says that when the motion is passed will help to hold MPs accountable.
He also suggested that the card chip system used by Parliamentary staff to monitor time they come in and leave should also apply to MPs who come in to attend plenary and the time they leave saying that this will even make the government Chief Whips work easier.
Mwiru noted that the recent Parliament’s record of attendance indicates an inexcusable laxity in the attendance to the business of the House which he said is an embarrassment of the Institution of Parliament.
He said that MPs who are paid for not attending sittings is a sign of corruption and quoted the National Objectives and Directive Principles on State Policy that stipulates that all public offices be held in trust for the people and that all lawful measures be taken to expose, combat and eradicate corruption and abuse or misuse of power by those holding political and other public offices.
He said that he is aware that this matter has a lot of difficulties since it involves his fellow MPs but said that MPs should not defraud the public and that this action should not raise threats.
Justine Kasule Lumumba, when contacted about this move that is closely linked to her work of whipping MPs to attend plenary and her earlier reported move of introducing a book for NRM MPs to sign before attending plenary, could not respond to the call.
However the Government Deputy Chief Whip David Bahati said that there was no separate attendance book introduced for NRM MPs to sign in order to monitor their attendance but rather noted that there is a general register carried out by Parliament.
Bahati noted that with the motion he believes that all MPs are responsible Ugandans who take their work seriously and that they will look at the motion and consider its merits and demerits and see how to move forward with it.
NRM’s MP Peter Okeyo, representing Bukholi Islands and seconded the motion said that this motion will create transparency in the working of Parliament and MPs. Okeyo said the motion could help redeem the image of the institution of Parliament since it comes at a time when his NRM party members are being questioned for not being in the house to make quorum on important bills.
He also added that accountability will prevail with the motion put into practice and that it will also make the chief whips work easy
MP Joseph Sewungu, representing Kalungu West, said that if the motion is passed it will help to keep MPs in the house since they need the allowance money. He believes it will stop MPs from cheating their electorate.
MP Lulume Bayega, representing Buikwe County South, seconded the motion. He said that the most important thing in the motion is to ensure that elected leaders have a responsibility and courtesy of informing Parliament or authorities of Parliament about their whereabouts.
Bayega said it would stop MPs from making up false excuses for failure to attend to their duty.