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Parliament’s Shs 10bn COVID-19 Allocation Blocked by Court

Kampala High Court has issued an injunction, blocking Parliament from allocating Shs 10bn to lawmakers to “fight Coronavirus.”

This followed a petition by MP Gerard Karuhanga and Erute North MP Jonathan Odur who protested the move.

ChimpReports last Tuesday reported that Parliament secretly allocated Shs 10bn, from the COVID-19 supplementary budget, to facilitate Members of Parliament in the committees established by the House to join national activities in the fight against the pandemic.

Shs 5bn was deducted from the Ministry of Health’s supplementary allocation of Shs 104bn and Shs 5bn from other sectors to realize the Shs 10bn to meet Parliament’s needs.

The move attracted national outrage, with people condemning what they described as “greed” of lawmakers especially at a time when a fundraising was underway to support the vulnerable affected by the novel virus.

High Court today decided to halt the release of funds until the hearing and determination of Karuhanga’s application on April 29.

CSBAG boss Julius Mukunda last week told ChimpReports that while Parliament has a role to appropriate funds, Article 93 of the Constitution provides that the House shall not impose any charge on the consolidated funds unless the motion is brought by the Executive.

“The Constitutional Court affirmed and buttressed this position in the case of Mwesigye v the AG & Another Constitutional Petition No 31 of 2011 (decided in 2015),” said Mukunda.

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He also said Parliament’s action contradicts Section 15 PFMA which enjoins the Parliament to ensure that public resources are held and utilized in a “transparent, accountable, efficient, effective, and sustainable manner.”

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said the money partly is to pay drivers of the ambulances that MPs seconded to Ministry of Health, as well community sensitization.

Duplication of work

But Mukunda said these are in no way oversight roles but rather a duplication of the work of the National Task Force, and what other Government agencies are already doing as defined by the Uganda’s National Policy for Disaster Preparedness and Management (2011).

“Parliament of Uganda must restrict itself to its legislative role and leave COVID-19 response activities to the National task force appointed by the President,” he observed.

“Further to this, we still believe these funds should have been reallocated from the already existing Parliament Commission budget of FY 2019/200 without raiding the consolidated fund. There are planned Parliamentary activities that are redundant now where the Shs 10Bn should have been secured.”

Opposition firebrand Dr Kizza Besigye also condemned Parliament’s decision, saying, “Surely, what’s wrong with Uganda’s leaders? Everywhere in the world, leaders are donating their earnings to help the COVID19 fight.”

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