Chaos in Parliament of Uganda over age limit debate.

The Members of Parliament (MPs) voted increase their salaries by a considerable margin, leading to public outcry specially the legislators receiving condemnation from President Yoweri Museveni, the Church, public servants and the civil society organisations (CSOs) across the country.

Due to the increase, government now needs an extra Shs90 billion for 452 MPs who are set to raise their salaries more than 100 per cent to Shs24 million from Shs11 million.
The increment will raise the Parliament’s annual wage bill on only MPs’ basic salaries by 218 per cent to Shs129b from Shs39 billion.

Parliament wants an additional Shs90b to cater for MPs’ salaries at Shs24m every month.
The projected budget of the Parliamentary Commission for Financial Year 2018/19 is Shs459 billion and Shs86.9 billion will be for salaries of MPs and Parliament staff.

Despite public outcry the MPs reason that their need to increase salaries is intended to meet the cost of fuel whose price they claim has increased. The money, they say will be used to buy more fuel so as they able to tour their constituencies to ascertain development projects there.

But despite that argument, analysts have come in to show the public why the MPs seriously need their salaries increased, apart from the claim of increase in fuel prices at the filling stations around the country. They discuss other reasons as below;

President Museveni’s recent spending spree thorn in MPs flesh

A political analyst this website talked to said that President Yoweri Museveni’s recent spending spree on SACCOs as he moves around the country has awakened the MPs, including his own members of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), which he heads as Chairman. To some MPs it is a thorn in their flesh as he dishes money out yet for them they are redundant despite their urge to run in the next election. “President Museveni is indirectly campaigning for 2021 presidential general election as he dishes out billions of shillings to youth and women groups. MPs have realised this which has pushed them to look for ways of raising funds that can help them also start indirect campaigns. Raising their salaries and allowances is one of the strategies,” he says, adding that the period remaining is too short for MPs to raise enough funds for campaigns even as NRM-leaning MPs get some funds from the party for campaigns.

Alarming debts

A senior journalist who has been reporting from parliament a long time and has interacted with various MPs in their offices, says many have debts that came about as they campaigned to serve in the current term. “Many have bank loans, others acquired it from friends and money sharks who now need to be paid. Some MPs miss plenary because they fear court bailiffs who are looking for them,” he says, adding that raising their salaries therefore comes in handy to solve the debt issue.

Unfulfilled pledgees

A political Science academic from Makerere University opines that the MPs are worried of losing the next elections due to unfulfilled pledges they made to their constituencies. Remember some promised to build water springs, bridges, roads and schools among others. “Due to lack of enough money they have not done anything. MPs now think that by increasing their salaries and allowances, they will spare some portion to implement their promises to the voters who are bitter with them,” he said, adding that some want their salaries increased soon because they fear they might be voted out in the next election.

Best way to continue amassing wealth

Another political scientist from the same institution told this website that most MPs are into real estate building rentals but also running wholesale and supermarkets. According to him they want more money to sink in some of collapsing business, which they think that when revamped, will help them increase their wealth. “You know that some MPs have hotels, farms, schools and hospitals and they want to expand. So raising salaries helps them achieve this objective in the long run,” he said, urging Museveni not to okay their demand of increasing salaries but instead increase salaries of teachers, medical personnel and scientists. He also said more money should be put into agriculture, health, tourism and education sectors.

Raising demands from individual voters

“Have you ever visited your MP at his village home over the weekend?” An analyst asked this reporter, explaining that MPs receive individual voters in their homes and that these voters need help from them. “They want MPs to pay fees for their children, pay medical bills for their children, get jobs for their children, and feed their families. All this is money and for MPs to help, asking for an increase in their salaries is not surprising,” he said.

The increment in the wage bill for MPs will further affect the taxpayer as each MP has already received Shs200 million as part of the car grant from government.
Just last year, the legislators were paid Shs29 million each as facilitation to carry out consultations on the controversial Constitution Amendment Bill that led to the removal of presidential age limits from the constitution to allow President Museveni stand for re-election come 2021 and probably beyond if he so wishes.

Ugandan MPs are the second highest-paid in the East Africa after Kenya, according to 2016 study of salaries for legislators in the region’s five countries. Kenyan legislators earn US$13,740 each month, which amounts to about one and a half times the monthly salary of a Ugandan MP (US$8,715).

An MP in Uganda earns a basic salary of Shs11.18 million, which is taxed. However, they also take home a raft of untaxed allowances, which elevates their total pay package above the Shs20 million-mark.

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