Members of Parliament are set to amend the Parliamentary Pension Act in a bid to strengthen their financial muscle ahead of the 2016 election.
According to a source that spoke to Eagleonline, the MPs will tomorrow,Tuesday June 30 amend the Act, seeking to draw money ostensibly for the election campaigns that start in October.
The source said the Act was supposed to have been debated on Friday last week but the MPs were time-barred to discuss the issue placed at No. 7 on the Order Paper, prompting the Speaker Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga to postpone debate.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said that local banks have been borrowing Shs100 billion from the scheme at a rate of 3 per cent, money the very MPs would borrow from the banks at a commercial rate of about 21 per cent, the more reason the banks are now wary of what would befall them if the MPs amended the Act. The source intimated that each MP has about 300 million saved with the scheme and that already 27 MPs had been ‘approached with bribes’ by the commercial banks, to defer the matter, to pave the way for the banks to continue enjoying the hefty lending rate difference of about 18 per cent.
For some time now pension kitties in Uganda have been under threat, with billions reportedly siphoned by wayward civil servants in connivance with dubious private citizens. Just recently city lawyer Bob Kasango admitted before the Parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that he irregularly obtained Shs7.8 billion pension money.
However, PAC looked on indifferently as the lawyer promised to ‘refund’ the money and now, according to the source, the MPs want to ‘sanitise their act’ by amending the Parliamentary Pensions Act 6 of 2007 to allow them draw money before the actual time stipulated by law. Protagonists for the Fund started their quest for a pension scheme in 2001 and the Bill was assented to in 2007.
According to records, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on the Economy heads the Board of the Parliamentary Pension Fund, with the Clerk to Parliament as Secretary. Other members include the Minister of Finance, four elected ‘back-bench Commissioners’, two elected MPs and one member representing the workers of Parliament.
The current chairperson of the Fund is Rose Akol Okullu, the Woman MP for Bukedea, but according to the source long-serving Bunyole East MP Emmanuel Dombo Lumala is the lead mover of the amendment of the Act which he vehemently vouched for during his time as the chairperson of the parliamentary committee on the economy.
Efforts to contact Ms Akol and Dombo on their known official phone lines were futile.
An Accountant by profession, Dombo is one of the longest-serving MPs, having joined the House in 1996.