A section of Opposition Members of Parliament has returned monies deposited to their individual accounts by parliament for consultation on the proposed ‘Age Limit’ Bill.
Led by the Opposition Whip Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the group of six assembled 174 million Shillings before the media at Parliament and later presented it to Ismael Lesin, a junior accountant in the office in charge of refunds at Parliament.
The MPs who addressed the press today claim the money is a bribe from President Museveni to legitimize his so called life presidency project.
“How will history judge this parliament, and we can’t set a precedent that you can pick one item and then you bribe MPs pretending that you are giving them money for consultations,” stated Opposition whip Semujju Nganda.
Five of them displayed wads of cash which they confirmed was the Shs29m each of them received from Parliament.
The MPs were led by the Opposition whip Semujju Nganda who admonished parliamentary authorities for diversion of funds from various items in the budget to facilitate the age limit bill consultations.
Those that have returned the money include Soroti Woman MP Angelline Osegge, Butambala County MP Muwanga Kivumbi, Busongora North MP William Nzoghu, Busiro East MP Medard Lubega Seggona and Rubaga North MP Moses Kasibante. The Opposition in Parliament is composed of 58 members.
Ssemujju questioned why a Private Member’s Bill is costing the taxpayer a lot of money when other bills processed by parliament are not accorded the same treatment.
“Part of the reason private members are not ordinarily allowed to present business to parliament is that you must avoid unnecessary costs. And that is why it is a requirement that to move a bill of that nature, you must along with it table a certificate of financial implication,” Ssemujju said.
Ssemujju added that before the money reached their accounts, President Yoweri Museveni coached MPs from the ruling NRM party on how it should be used during consultations.
On October 23, Parliament released 29 million Shillings for each Member of Parliament to help them consult on the proposed ‘Age Limit’ Bill. A total of 13 billion Shillings has so far been released to cater for consultations on the Constitutional Amendment that seeks to among others, lift the cap on the presidential age.
MPs are expected to kick start their two week consultations today on the constitutional amendment No.2 Bill that was tabled by Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi, the bill seeks to eliminate clause 102(b) that places an upper age cap of 75 years on presidential aspirants.
The opposition whip notes he is going to write to the Auditor General and the IGG and ask them to kick start investigations into the source of the funds.
Semujju observed with concern the haste with which the money was allocated while several sectors of the economy remain critically underfunded.
He argued that such an expenditure on private member bills such as Magyezi’s should be discouraged noting that if several private members presented separate bills to parliament the cost would cripple the country.
“The one for Magyezi is about 4 pages, if for Magyezi’s bill we are going to spend Shs13b what about bills that are big whose volume they are nearly 200 pages maybe they are going to give us a billion shillings each.”