The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has told ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) to stop advancing funding and other forms of favors to Members of Parliament (MPs) for committee work, saying the practice is fast-eroding the credibility of the institution.
Kadaga warned that harsh actions would be taken against lawmakers found accepting such advances because they are well aware that the role of funding Parliament committees falls solely within the ambits of the Parliament Commission.
“Ministries and agencies should stop funding Parliament Committee work because the Parliament Commission, which is mandated with this role, has enough funds. Accounting officers doing this kind of thing should be reported and the conduct will be treated as corruption,” Kadaga said.
This was shortly before President Yoweri Museveni delivered the State of the Nation Address yesterday, which also marked the opening of the fourth session of the 10th Parliament. The parliamentary commission is the institution’s governing board.
It is rumored that some parliamentarians engage in soliciting money and favors from government officials, not to put them to task over commissions or omissions.
Asked about the matter, the chairperson of the committee on science and technology, Kafeero Ssekitoleko, said: “When an item is initiated, say a Bill, and we decide to sensitize the public about it but have little funds to facilitate us, interested stakeholders and ministries sometimes come in to assist.
This should not be construed as corruption.” A cabinet minister said it is not the ministries that seek to give favors to MPs. It is the MPs that solicit for facilitation and favors from ministries. “They (committees) put us under a lot of pressure to fund their foreign trips and when we refer the matter to the Speaker, they harass us,” said the minister.
Another minister said it is largely government agencies that facilitate committee work as a way of covering up their wrongdoings. In his speech, the President said the Government has embarked on a campaign to achieve zero tolerance to corruption.
Museveni said it was too shameful, in the presence of foreign dignitaries and international media, to hear that Parliament and ministries are engaged in corruption tendencies.