Exercising their privilege of being the only public officials whom determine their own pay, Members of Parliament have increased their allowances by 39 per cent and that of parliamentary staff by 15 per cent, citing rising costs of living.
With every one of the 426 legislators earning between Shs15 million and Shs30 million every month, depending on how far their constituency is from Parliament Building in Kampala; the new allowances will cost taxpayers an additional Shs63.46b in the 2019/20 budget, increasing the House budget from the current Shs497.8b to Shs561.3b.
Parliament’s increase of their allowances comes in the face of high inflation rates, with Bank of Uganda last month indicating headline inflation in the country (which measures fluctuation in prices of fixed basket of goods such as food and energy) to be at 3 per cent.
Matooke Republic has learnt that the House yesterday did not even debate the latest raise in its allowances when the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee presented the changes.
Apparently, Kabula MP James Kakooza, in what appeared to be a “choreographed” act, thwarted discussion on the matter by moving an impromptu motion that the report be adopted straightaway because “the figures are clear and the report is elaborate.”
There has long been criticism of parliament’s having the mandate to fix its own payments, with many critics saying the Law should be changed to have a body without conflict of interest determining legislators’ pay.
The regulation that allows Parliament to fix its own payment is embedded in the Constitution:
Article 79 (1) of the Constitution says: “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament shall have power to make laws on any matter for the peace, order, development and good governance of Uganda.”
While Article 85 of the Constitution states: “A Member of Parliament shall be paid such emoluments, such gratuity and pension, and shall be provided with such facilities, as may be determined by Parliament.”