News Column

Finance Rejects Pay Rise for MPs

August 21, 2014

Deo Walusimbi

Parliament this financial year will be squeezed by a Shs 111bn budget hole, a review of the Parliamentary Commission's ministerial policy statement has found.

The minister of Finance, Maria Kiwanuka, has allocated Parliament Shs 237.4bn out of the Shs 348bn, the commission asked for. In her June 10th letter to the speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, Kiwanuka said: "I propose that the commission operates within the available resources."

In justifying its huge budget, the commission said it needed Shs 62.7bn to merge the allowances and salaries of MPs'. The consolidation would effectively raise the MPs monthly earnings. But the minister said there was no money.

"Consolidation of the subsistence allowance with the salary enhancement [should] be stayed and salary enhancement will only be considered as resources become available," the minister said.

According to the policy statement, the Parliamentary Commission wanted to change the money allocation.

"The changes in the recurrent budget arise from the planned consolidation of the wage budget for the members of Parliament," the commission said.

"The increment is partially funded by a reduction in the allowances originally paid to MPs as a result of consolidation of subsistence allowance with the salary under the non- wage budget."

"Consequently, this consolidation has an impact on the non-wage budget where the 30 per cent government contribution to the pension scheme has to rise," the commission said.

"Therefore, the recurrent budget will mainly be expended on allowances and salaries for Members of Parliament, committee oversight activities, travel abroad, government contribution to the pension scheme, rent for Bauman House and government contribution to EALA," the commission said.

Other planned recurrent expenses include; salary and allowances for staff, medical cover, utilities such as water, electricity and telecommunication. The commission also requested for an expanded development budget for Shs 55.5bn but got Shs 8.9bn.

The commission wanted to use Shs 46.6bn on plumbing and electro-mechanical works in the toilets of the parliamentary building, (Shs 1.4bn) on building and roofing the additional storey in the eastern, northern, and western wings of the Parliamentary building, renovation of development House (Shs 2.1bn), security equipment for the main building (Shs 26.5bn) and security equipment for development House Shs (8.1bn).

On the non-wage front, the commission needs Shs 229.9bn to contribute to the East African Legislative Assembly and operational costs, but finance allocated Shs 208.9bn.

"Since the resource envelope has not improved substantially, any increment in the operations of the commission will be considered in subsequent financial years," Kiwanuka said.

"Considering that the revenue projection for the financial year 2014/15 indicates no substantial increase, only modest activities can be undertaken. I therefore, recommend that the commission prioritises its development activities within the available resources over the medium term."

In conclusion, Kiwanuka wrote: "I recommend that the draft estimates for the Parliamentary Commission for the fiscal year 2014/15 be approved within the affordable position as indicated, the shortfalls will be considered within the medium term through prioritisation and when resources become available".

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Source: AllAfrica

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