Ugandan Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga on Fiday morning deferred a heated debate on the plight of teachers in regard to their salary increment of 20% to next week.
The Speaker directed that Parliament’s budget committee convenes immediately to highlight areas were money can be found to cater for the salary increment and then report to the House next week.
In her ruling she also directed that the Finance Ministry co-operates with Parliament’s Budget committee in the process. Talking tough, Kadaga said she will hold them accountable for the promise made during the budget speech that they could cut expenditures on workshops, seminars and others.
This was after Members of Parliament unanimously agreed to block this year’s financial budget without reflecting the 20% increment pledged by government to teachers.
MPs suggested budget cuts across all ministries in order to raise the 20% salary increment for teachers.
This was during the debate on the Education Committee report on the Ministry of Education and Sports Ministerial Policy Statement.
The committee strongly recommended to Parliament that the funds for the 20% increment of teachers’ salaries be identified before the approval of the sector budget for financial year 2013/2014 as these are not new priorities in the budget.
Government this financial year failed to honour the 50% increment for teachers’ salaries in the medium term which was to be implemented in a phased manner starting with a 15% increment in 2012/13 financial year which was implemented, 20% in 2013/2014 and 15% in the financial year 2014/2015.
Education Minister Jessica Alupo was not in the House to give response to the teachers’ pay rise demands and threats of a strike. She was represented by junior minister Charles Bakabulindi.
Kadaga noted that Alupo was out of the country and that this was before the ban on travels came up and that she had formally communicated to her office.
Bukoli MP Okeyo Peter rejected state Minister Charles Bakabulindi proposal saying that no amount of caucusing could change their position on the plight of teachers. Okeyo alleged that the Minister was suggesting next week for a response since NRM has a caucus on Monday next week.
Bakabuindi noted that the MPs should respect each other refuting his suggestion being in line with Monday’s NRM caucus.
State Minister for Finance in charge of Planning Matia Kasaija noted that government had a provision of 4% across the service and that the House should be talking about 16% not a 20% increment.
He refuted allegation that his ministry had run away from the session saying that he had gone out to consult with the technical officers of Finance ministry to provide the House with a bidding solution.
However, in his response, he insisted that the ministry had since failed to find ways or areas from which the money to pay teachers would come from.
This angered the Woman representative Abia Christine Bako who said that Kasaija should take the House seriously. She reminded Kasaija that it was the government that had previously pleaded with teachers to return to the classroom when they threatened industrial action and made the promise of a pay rise.
She said it was thoughtless for the government to continue increasing the budgets for the State House yet the teachers continue to miss out.
Kadaga after her earlier ruling, blocked the Budget committee trip that her office had earlier approved before yesterday’s ban for the committee to handle the teacher’s salary.
The members of the committee that had to travel include MP Florence Nebanda, the chairperson of the Budget committee Tim Lwanga, the clerk to the committee and others.