27 July 2015, Kampala – Parliament has paid out close to Shs 40bn to legislators as accrued fuel allowances. Each MP has reportedly received Shs 100m as arrears accrued in fuel allowances since the 9th parliament commenced translating to Shs 37.5bn for the 375 MPs.
In its justification for the payments, the Parliamentary Commission says that due to the rising pump prices of fuel, it is imperative that the legislators are paid the difference in price changes between 2011 and now.
When contacted Rose Akol, one of the parliamentary commissioners confirmed the development but referred this reporter to the public relations office.
Moses Bwalatum, the acting public relations manager of Parliament, confirmed the payments saying the adjustments in the allowances were justified.
“Given the changes in economic dynamics, it was imperative that the allowances are revised. I know the adjustments were made in consultation with the ministry of finance,” Bwalatum explains.
On whether the money has already been paid out, Bwalatum says he was not aware, but Ruth Nankabirwa the government chief whip confirmed that the money has been paid to the MPs.
“That is their money which is fuel arrears. The MPs have been demanding for this”, she said. Nankabirwa said the current fuel allowances are “really miserable” and it was imperative that the MPs got paid the money to match the risen fuel prices.
Martin Drito, Madi Okollo MP, says he is yet to receive the money but confirmed that some of his colleagues have already received the money.
“I am yet to get the money but my colleagues who have accounts in the local banks have already received theirs. I believe the pay out is justified because fuel prices have risen over time leaving us constrained,” Drito states.
Wrong priorities? Speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s vehicle negotiating its way on a muddy road
This move is bound to attract backlash from the public and civil society, which has often accused MPs of increasing their salaries and allowances in a selfish manner.
It also comes on the backdrop of a resolution by the ruling party, NRM to send its MPs for one week to consult with party members about the 2011-2016 manifesto. The MPs are expected to provide reports to a committee, chaired by prime minister, Ruhakana Rugunda to help formulate the party’s 2016-2021 manifesto.
According to sources, the MPs will get between Shs 20m and Shs 50m each for the consultations.
“We are supposed to do this in the shortest time possible given the fact that we are already into the road map of our elections. So we hope that when we get the money we work with a modest budget to enable the MPs go down their constituencies.”, Nankabirwa said.