Museveni & MPs exchange bitter words over salary Increment & budget funds

President Yoweri Museveni has warned MPs against continually increasing their salary, saying it is wrong. In a closed-door NRM Caucus meeting at State House Entebbe on Monday, the President expressed disappointment at the way the MPs had increased their salary, saying the citizens were complaining about their actions.

A source that attended the meeting said that Museveni asked the members to stop increasing their pay under the guise of running constituency affairs.

“While on upcountry tours, the citizens complained a lot about this issue of you increasing your salaries. What you are doing is wrong. People think that MPs are selfish and taking everything,” a source quoted the President.

Re-allocation of funds

Museveni also expressed concern over the way Parliament re-allocated funds during the appropriation of the budget that was recently passed. He argued that Parliament has no powers to re-allocate money already agreed by the Executive. He reportedly argued that reallocating the funds interferes with the Executive’s budget plans and priorities.

The President reportedly said Parliament has only two options approve the budget as it is or reject it.

“When you re-allocate monies which the Executive has already allocated, it affects the decisions that have been made. We need to work together. When we are lying, let us not hit each other,” the President reportedly said.

During the 2019/20 budget, the MPs re-allocated money from various votes to sectors that they deemed to be in need of more funding. At least sh1.1 trillion was affected in the reallocations. For instance, originally, the Bank of Uganda was to receive sh480b for recapitalisation. However, Parliament slashed the figure by half to about sh284b.

Other institutions that were affected by reallocations included payment for court cases (sh60b), the digital tax stamps project by the Uganda Revenue Authority (sh96b) and Lottery Services (sh2b). The defence committee had also recommended cutting the defence budget to allocate funds for the Local Defence Unit (LDUs) wages, but the finance ministry averted the move by presenting a corrigendum providing funds for the LDUs and other sectors amounting to sh600b.

The MPs also increased Parliament’s budget allocation to cater for increment in their mileage allowances. The MPs argued that fuel prices had risen from sh3,500 per litre at the beginning of the financial year 2018/19 to the current price of sh4,300. MPs also created an internal constituency mileage, in addition to the usual mileage that they have been receiving.

During the budget discussion then, the legislators said while in the constituency, they move around consulting their electorates. The budget committee also reallocated over sh1 trillion from statutory expenditures. During the caucus meeting, the MPs, including the budget committee chairperson, Amos Lugoloobi, reportedly defended themselves on matters of increasing their pay, saying they were only “fixing variations in fuel prices”.

MPs Lugoloobi, Henry Musasizi and James Kakooza, citing different laws that empower Parliament to do appropriation, reportedly informed the President that they were acting in accordance with powers granted to Parliament by the Constitution. “The law empowers us to reallocate. We did nothing outside the law,” Lugoloobi reportedly told the President

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Muwanga Ronald is editor in chief of the UGANDANZ news website. He was formerly editorial director of UGANDANZ.COM, overseeing the publication’s digital operations. Before joining UGANDANZ in December 2018, Ronald was managing editor of NILE HOST In 2014, he was a finalist for the UJA Awards for Young Journalists for his reporting on the women's emancipation. Under his leadership NILE HOST won Media Industry Newsletter's Best of the Web award in 2018. A graduate of Makerere University, Ronald speaks Luganda and French and lives in Kampala with his wife and two children.