The Speaker Rebecca Kadaga chaired the plenary sitting of 7th July 2020. The Speaker instructed the Committee of Defence and Internal Affairs to visit Nsambya Police barracks to examine the living conditions of the Officers. This followed a concern raised by Hon. Kibyalya Maurice that the Police barracks lacked adequate housing and electricity. The Speaker also asked the Ministry of Internal Affairs to intervene and address the matter.
Katoto Hatwib, the representative of Katerara County in Rubirizi district, raised a concern that the vanilla farmers in his Constituency have been denied an opportunity to sell their products outside their district. He said that currently, the farmers are unable to generate enough income from their crops because the price for vanilla in the district is very low. The Speaker instructed the Ministries of Agriculture and Trade to address the matter.
Hon. Bahati David, the State Minister for Finance, informed the House that the Ministry is making efforts to help the business communities affected by COVID-19. He noted that there would be an issuance of an instrument to give relief to those who borrowed from the money lenders and the microfinance institutions.
Concerning Hon. Bahati’s statement, the Speaker said that she had received concern from the Salon and Spa operators. People involved in Salon and Spa businesses want the Government to allow them to re-open with guidelines on how to operate safely. The business people in this sector also want to be guided on how they can acquire the stimulus package. Hon. Bahati, in response, said that the Ministry would prepare a comprehensive statement to respond to this matter.
Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister for Gender, gave an update to Parliament about the verification and enrollment of new eligible beneficiaries under the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) Program. The Minister said that the eligibility criteria to be met by all recipients of the Programme includes; one being a Ugandan citizen, aged 80 years and above, benefiting from a public service pension and should be registered with the National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA). The Minister emphasized that any person who is not on the NIRA register will not be picked by the SAGE system. Hon. Tumwebaze noted that the Ministry has been running announcements on various public media to inform and encourage eligible older persons on how they can be helped to access the SAGE grants.
Hon. Nagwomu Moses, the Chairperson of the Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs, presented a report of the Committee on the petition and oversight visits on operations of the NIRA. Among other things, the report indicated that NIRA lacked permanent offices and was renting the place where its headquarters are housed. The report findings showed that NIRA was paying rent equivalent to 56 million to the Ministry of Defence. The institution is also understaffed across the country, which slows down its work.
Members of Parliament presented the need for NIRA to be investigated regarding the 56 Million shillings paid to the Ministry of Defence monthly as rent. They observed that NIRA is a government entity and, therefore, should not be paying rent to a Government Ministry.
Hon. Ssebagala Abdulatif said that some many students and pupils registered for National IDs but have never got them. He added that the process of replacing a lost National ID is challenging.
While responding to the concerns about NIRA, Hon. Obiga Kania acknowledged that there are weaknesses in the institution. However, the Internal Affairs Ministry is putting in place measures to improve the performance of the institution. Some of the efforts made include; the appointment of a new Board Chairperson and the recruitment of a new Executive Director, which is ongoing.
The Speaker ruled that a forensic audit be carried out on the tenancy agreement between NIRA and the Ministry of Defence. This was followed by the adoption of the report of the Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs.