The public service and local governments committee of parliament has tasked Prof. Gilbert Bukenya, to return benefits he has been receiving as a member of parliament before claiming privileges as a former Vice president.
The Busiro North Member of parliament has repeatedly accused the Public Service ministry of denying him his entitlements as a former vice president.
According to the Emoluments and benefits of the President, Vice President and the Prime Minister Act, a former VP is entitled to 60% of the salary of the sitting VP, a house purchase fund of 15000 currency points (Ugx 300Million) and a chauffeur-driven car.
He is also entitled to medical care for the retired VP and his family, two security guards, two domestic staff, a secretary, an allowance equivalent to 35 currency points (Ugx 700,000) for utilities, an allowance equivalent to 500 currency points (Ugx 10 Million) for furniture and an allowance equivalent to 250 currency points (Ugx 5 million) for replacement of furniture every after five years.
The same act however says that where a former Vice President is elected a member of parliament he or she shall benefit from the greater of the benefits under this act and those enjoyable by the Member of Parliament but not both.
This afternoon, Raphael Magyezi, the Igara East MP and his Mukono municipality counterpart Betty Namboze argued that the former VP can’t claim two entitlements.
According to Magyezi it is illegal for Bukenya to draw both the benefits of a sitting MP and those of a former Vice president adding that, in his correspondences with the ministry Bukenya chose to forfeit the parliamentary benefits to have the presidential benefits.
In an 18th January letter, the Director research and development in the ministry of public service Stephen Kiwanuka-Kunsa told Bukenya to choose between the parliamentary benefits he is entitled to as MP and the presidential benefits he is entitled to as former VP.
In his response on February 6th, Bukenya said he would take the Presidential benefits and relinquish the parliamentary. Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny, the committee chairperson asked Bukenya why he is still getting the parliamentary benefits when he opted for the presidential ones.
Bukenya insisted that he doesn’t receive the presidential benefits.
Kwiyucwincy said that since the committee is investigating why Bukenya has been denied his entitlements as former VP, he should tell the committee if he is ready to refund the benefits he has been getting as an MP. Boaz Kafuda, the Busongora south MP concurred saying it is illegal to draw two emoluments from one fund.
But Bukenya told the committee that what he gets as an MP are not benefits but facilitation to do his job as an MP.
He explained that the fuel given to him to go to his constituency is his right, to enable him fulfill his obligation to his constituents.
His argument was supported by David Muhumuza, the Mwenge North MP who said the law has loopholes saying that the benefits one gets as an MP serve purposes like consultation and transport to the constituency.
Rowland Mugume, the Rukungiri Municipality MP also said that the former VP is entitled to both benefits saying that he earns the ones he gets as an MP because he has to be remunerated for the job he is currently rendering.
Bukenya also asked why other people have not been denied their benefits. He cited the example of former Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi who gets all the benefits of a former PM and gets emoluments as a presidential adviser.
He said the law should be extrapolated to everyone and not applied selectively.” Magyezi and Nambooze again argued that the committee was handling Bukenya’s case and if there are other similar cases they should be handled on their own merit.
Bukenya advised the committee to focus on solving the problem and not focus on him insisting that he is not aggrieved in any way. “The issue isn’t the benefits; in my garage I have nine cars so I can’t fight over a car.”