Let’s do the maths: What 43 more MPs will cost

By: Jacky Kemigisa

On 4th Au­gust 2015, par­lia­ment ap­proved the cre­ation of 43 coun­ties that will au­to­mat­i­cally qual­ify to be con­stituen­cies to be oc­cu­pied by Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment in the 10th par­lia­ment.

The coun­ties take ef­fect as I write, for the mo­tion pro­posed they take off 1st July/​2015. This will lead to an in­crease of the leg­is­la­ture’s bud­get for the next fi­nan­cial years, mean­ing the tax­pay­er’s pock­ets will grow big­ger holes.

At the be­gin­ning of the 9th par­lia­ment, the par­lia­men­tary com­mis­sion adopted a pol­icy of pro­vid­ing an ipad and a ve­hi­cle to each and every MP. That cost about Ugx 976 mil­lion and Ugx 39.76 bn re­spec­tively. (As per the dol­lar rate in 2013)

Does this pol­icy also ap­ply to the new MPs, so what hap­pens to the old iPads that were al­ready pur­chased? Is there a guar­an­tee that MPs who will fail to come back will re­turn these Ipads? All these are ques­tions that Par­lia­ment has been met by  deaf­en­ing si­lence from Par­lia­ment.

With the new 43 MPs, the Par­lia­men­tary com­mis­sion is to milk the tax­pay­ers ad­di­tional fund­ing of:

  • For Ve­hi­cles to each of the 43 new MPs costs 143 mil­lion = 6.1 bil­lion for all 43 MPs
  • IPads for each of 43 new MPs costs Ugx 1.7 mil­lion = Ugx  75 mil­lion for all new MPs

Roughly a mem­ber of par­lia­ment as stated by MP Mafabi gets a salary of Ugx 8Mil­lion, for all the new 43 new MPs that are 344 mil­lion per month (With­out al­lowances).

This means tax pay­ers will be spend­ing Ugx 6.149 Bil­lion in the first month when the 43 new MPs take of­fice. You can cal­cu­late what the 5-year term for the new MPs’ will cost.

Notwith­stand­ing, there is a  pro­posal to con­struct new cham­bers whose cost is in bil­lions.  Given the fact that the cur­rent num­ber of 375 mem­bers can­not fit in the cham­bers, where will the 418  sit? (This is the num­ber of con­stituency MPs with­out the ex-of­fi­cials)

Such as­tro­nom­i­cal amounts of money  in my opin­ion could have been in­jected into the pro­duc­tive sec­tors like agri­cul­ture that em­ploys more than 65% of Ugan­da’s pop­u­la­tion and whose bud­get was cut for this fi­nan­cial year, the sec­tor also has crit­i­cal un­funded pri­or­i­ties.

Does cre­ation of 43 new coun­ties ‘bring ser­vices closer to the peo­ple’ as the min­is­ter for Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment rea­soned? Why not cre­ate mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties or even dis­tricts that guar­an­tee new hos­pi­tals, se­cu­rity?

Imag­ine if Gov­ern­ment used the Ugx 6.419 Bil­lion to pur­chase equip­ment for the can­cer in­sti­tu­tion, or paid the ‘al­ways-strik­ing’ teach­ers. As if the ridicu­lous amount to be spent on the new MPs is not enough, Gov­ern­ment will have pend­ing le­gal suit from the un­happy and con­fused cur­rent Mem­bers.

For ex­am­ple, MP Ekanya Ge­of­frey rep­re­sents Tororo County; the cre­ation of the new coun­ties di­vides his county into Tororo North and South. So what county will he rep­re­sent, con­sid­er­ing the new coun­ties al­ready took ef­fect from 1st July 2015.

The cre­ation of new coun­ties also had many MPs at log­ger­heads with each other on who gets a new county and who does­n’t. The min­is­ter did not state clearly, what cri­te­ria gov­ern­ment used to se­lect new coun­ties.

Once again is it wor­thy to cre­ate the 43 new coun­ties?