The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has outlined the perennial absence of cabinet ministers among issues that greatly affected business during the first session of the 10th Parliament.
In her communication to the House on June 6, 2017, Kadaga noted with concern the continued absence of ministers during plenary sittings, which has hampered parliamentary business.
Kadaga noted that some business in the House has failed to be handled due to failure by line ministers to show up, a point that drew applause from legislators.
“We do appreciate that ministers have numerous responsibilities but their responsibility to parcel out the work in their respective ministries are prioritized with a view of ensuring that at least one minister is available from each ministry to carry out parliamentary work,” Kadaga told the House.
On several occasions, ministers have come under fire over their absence when MPs raise pertinent sector issues. The Government Chief whip, Ruth Nankabirwa has on several occasions been criticised by legislators for responding on behalf of the ministers.
Kadaga said it is not right that Nankabirwa is criticized for the ministers’ shortcomings, calling for the Executive to handle this matter.
“Many times the Government Chief Whip has to take the blame for the shortcomings but we hope that this can be remedied,” the Speaker noted.
She also took the moment to also task the MPs to avoid missing committee and plenary sittings during the second sitting, warning that there will be sanctions.
While regretting the death of two Members of Parliament, Anne Logiel, former Moroto Woman MP and former Toroma County MP, Cyrus Imalingat Amodoi, Kadaga noted that there is no clear policy to determine who should be accorded recognition in Parliament.
Kadaga revealed that there have been complaints lodged to her on Parliament’s failure to recognize some people. She asked that a clear policy is brought to Parliament to avoid the back and forth arguments and discussions over this.
“There are many senior people who have held positions in government who are departing at this time. Some of the senior citizens may require special recognition through official and state ceremonies which may entail that their remains be brought to Parliament. Unfortunately we don’t know who is entitled to be brought to Parliament,” she said.
The Speaker gave a brief on business conducted in the first session, with 17 bills passed, 4 motions seeking to introduce private members bills, including the National Graduate Service Bill 2016, the National Community Works Bill 2016, the Local Government Amendment Bill 2016 and Local Content Bill 2017.
She also urged the President to help Parliament address the issue of limited sitting space for MPs, both for offices and the chamber.
Parliament is yet to kick off construction of the new chamber, with funds allocated in the 2017/2018 budget to start construction of the 500-seater chamber.