Speaker explains Shs 10b to Parliament for coronavirus

Parliament has allocated Shs10b to facilitate Parliament and MPs for Covid-19 emergencies, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga revealed yesterday.
She said the money is part of the Shs304b supplementary budget passed by Parliament last week.


While appropriating the money in the supplementary budget to different sectors involved in the fight against Covid-19, Shs10b was allocated to Parliament, raising questions in the public.

Ms Kadaga, in an interview on NBS Television, said they are working hand in hand with government in the fight against Covid-19 and Parliament has already released its buses to the Ministry of Health to transport health workers to and from work, and has also released its ambulances for emergency response.
Individual MPs have also contributed their ambulances for their constituencies to bolster the district taskforces in the Covid-19 emergency response.
Ms Kadaga also said, without giving a breakdown, that part of the Shs10b will be used to maintain the ambulances contributed by Parliament and individual MPs, provide fuel and pay allowances for the drivers of the ambulances already released by MPs to help the Covid-19 taskforces at district level.

“The Members were getting calls for expenses on fuel and it had now become a burden to the MPs. They came here saying ‘find us some money from Parliamentary budget,” the Speaker said.
This newspaper has learnt through sources that MPs have about 170 ambulances deployed in their constituencies to help their electorates during time of emergency.
Ms Kadaga explained that part of the money will also be spent by the committees of Parliament, which are following up on the Ministry of Health’s fight against Covid-19 and facilitating MPs who sit on the national taskforce.

Shs20m for each MP
However, Mr Jackson Mbaju (Busongora South, FDC) told Daily Monitor that he had not asked for money to run his ambulance, but had also not received any communication from the Parliamentary Commission about it.
“I told Parliament last week that I wanted to go home to sacrifice and drive the ambulance myself,” he said yesterday.

However, sources within Parliament revealed that each MP will be given Shs20m as part of the Covid-19 fund to help them carry out sensitisation against the pandemic in their constituencies. The balance of the money will then go to fueling individual MPs’ ambulances, maintenance of the Parliamentary fleet that is already deployed to the Ministry of Health.

The sources, however, said the Shs10b was not part of the Shs304b that the parliamentary Budget Committee presented to the House for approval last week.
“I think it is the national taskforce, after receiving its share of the money, that gave the Shs10b to the Parliamentary Commission,” an MP who sits on the Budget committee, said.
However, Daily Monitor has learnt that the Shs10b was added at the tail end of the supplementary budget sheet during the debate and appropriation by Parliament. The proposal did not originate from the Budget Committee.
Last week, the supplementary budget was passed and the minority report from dissenting members of the budget committee was never given attention.

Minority report
The Minority report was signed by Mr Gerald Karuhanga (Ntungamo Municipality), Mr Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala), Ms Winfred Kiiza (Kasese Woman), Ms Cecilia Ogwal (Dokolo District Woman) and Ms Joy Atim Ongom (Lira Woman).
In the Minority report, these MPs had argued that the entire supplementary budget be managed by the Ministry of Health, which would then allocate money to agencies working with it.
On the Covid-19 Frontline, Ministry of Health, which needs Shs404b to run throughout six months, was allocated Shs104b.

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