Loan requests fill parliamentary business in the first half of the first session of the 10th Parliament
The executive arm of government led by National Resistance Movement is currently performing their duties under the slogan “Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo” (loosely translated to mean term of no games) as they assure citizens they mean business. Something the citizens largely want to see come out of government are results thereof. Uganda longs for a government that stands by the words promised to the electorate, and if this is it, then Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo should make the long awaited difference.
It seems the Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo only needs financial support from Parliament because all government has presented to Parliament are loans. If one was asked what Parliament had done in the first 100 days, the answer would be loans. By September 30th 138 days since government business commenced and nine different loans and only two Bills had been tabled before Parliament. Unquestionably, this term is geared to see more borrowing on the side of government. I don’t expect much from Parliament towards denying the same.
Certainly the executive cannot work in isolation of the other arms of government. To this extent, Parliament is often put to task to make such necessary statutory decisions in support of the executive such as Bills passing, Loans approval, Motions, petitions, and Appropriation of funds. All these are given priority in the business in the House, and all are important for making things move around.
Rule 24 of the Parliamentary Rules of Procedures is to the effect that the order of business in the House shall be determined by the Speaker, giving priority to government business. Also, under rule 27, the Leader of Government Business in the House, who also doubles as the Prime Minister is mandated in every last sitting day of the week to make a statement in the House regarding the government business of the succeeding week. Rule 27 however is not often adhered to by both the House and the Leader of Government Business in Parliament.
However, in the first half of the first session of the 10th Parliament which commenced soon after the Members took oath in May 2016, government did not expressly table any list of business for the House to give priority to. Instead there are items that have been brought before the House in the name of, or in the charge of a Minister in accordance with Rule 25. Ironically, majority of those tabled by ministers have been Ministerial Statements and request for loans for various activities.
Much as there are several Ministerial Statements on the floor, they simply explain occurrences or certain commitments the minister undertakes to perform. The loans on the other side are intended to finance certain government activities around the country.
The months of August and September saw the Committee of National Economy as busy as a bee on loans review and approval. The committee is essentially in charge of monitoring the performance of the economy, and all matters relating thereto often referred to it by the Speaker for further scrutiny. There have been a total of nine loans before the committee that were presented to Parliament by the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to facilitate several government activities including support to vocational education projects and construction of the 33KV and 11KV distribution project in six Districts.
So far, a total of USD 150 million has been approved from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group to support the Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACDP). Over USD 314.12 million are pending parliamentary approval for various activities as the committee is still combing through the request to ascertain the justification.
The Minister of Finance was put to task to explain the country’s debt position on as he tabled the request for government to borrow USD $14,300,000 from the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) to support the vocational education Project. He noted that the total nominal public debt of Uganda is currently at USD 7.4 billion as at end of June 2015. External debt is 59% of total debt. He added that the present value of Public Debt-to-GDP ratio of 24.1% at the end of June 2015 and is sustainable. (Read more)
It is understandable that government must perform its obligations and they need financing in order to execute such, but nine loans in 138 days? We should brace ourselves for more loans. Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo with all its activities such as holding medal ceremonies for former legislators from independence to-date (which doesn’t come cheap) needs adequate funding.