Igara West Member of Parliament Hon Raphael Magyezi has said his recent appointment into cabinet was not tied to his role in the removal of the Presidential Age Limit from the constitution.
“Well I don’t know the Presidents criteria. I want to believe that he has appointed me on merit. That he believes I am competent enough to become Minister for local government,” said Magyezi shortly after appearing before the parliamentary appointments committee on Friday for vetting.
And while many speculated that his appointment was a reward for introducing the constitutional amendment bill in 2017, Magyezi told reporters that it could have been his 20-year experience in local government matters that informed the decision.
“I have served in the district as a planner; I have served in the ministry of local government as a senior economist. I have served in the local government association as their chief executive,” Magyezi explained.
“I have served as the chairperson of the local government committee here in parliament. So I qualify with or without the bill of age limit,” he added.
Magyezi added that if that was the case, then all legislators bringing bills deemed as pro-government would all be ministers which is not the case.
“There are so many people, so many MPs who are bringing so many various bills, various motions. Are you going to make all of them ministers? Look at all the ministers we have did they all have to first bring bills in parliament?”
By tabling the age limit amendment bill, Magyezi said he was only carrying out his legislative duties.
On his plans as minister, Magyezi said he intends to work tooth and nail to ensure that the problem of underfunding local government entities is dealt with. Despite the amorphous tasks at their disposal, the national budget today only contributes about 12% to the running of local administrative units which is quite unrealistic.
“We need to agree on a cap fix a percentage of the national budget that is supposed to go to the local governments. I pointed out to the committee in 2000, we had reached the level of 34% as we speak today we have only 12% of the national budget going to local governments,” he elaborated.
Besides that, Magyezi also promised to champion digitalization amongst local government entities as one way of improving revenue collection citing vivid examples.
“We already have some good examples where digitalization of local revenue has realized a lot of good results. For example Jinja municipality in 2013 they had only 3.5 billion, in 2017 they collected 11.2 billion out of that innovation,” he promised.
This is not the first time, Magyezi a trained accountant is speaking out on issues concerning this subject.
Late August this year, he was among legislators who forced David Bahati the state minister for finance to withdraw budgetary figures for local government entities which arguing that they were incorrect at most.
Among those badly affected was Nansana municipal council which approved a budget of 4.2 billion but was only allocated 250 million by Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MOFPED).
Following intense pressure, minister Bahati acknowledged this mistake and requested for time to correct it.
“We are requesting the committee to give a chance to the ministry of finance to correct and reverse these errors and allow the local governments function normally”, Bahati requested then.