Last week as Members of Parliament passed the Shs304 Supplementary Budget of money to be used in the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19), MPs allocated themselves a total of Shs10 billion that has since been divided in equal denominations of Shs20 million to each member.
This allocation has been the centre of public debate since then, with the general public, musicians and some politicians criticising MPs, labelling them ‘greedy and selfish’ at a time when the country is looking for resources to fight the pandemic.
In light of the above, two MPs Gerald Karuhanga of Ntungamo Municipality and Odur Jonathan of Erute constituency represented by A.F Mpanga and Company Advocates petitioned the Civil Division of the High Court seeking to block the allocation of Shs10 billion, and Court indeed blocked it.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on what side you are on, the Court Order, according to Speaker Kadaga, reached her when the Parliamentary Commission had already distributed the money to the MPs.
In a Parliamentary Session today, the Speaker has said that there was a meeting between her, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, and President Museveni, and they drew guidelines for MPs to follow so that this money is used effectively to fight COVID-19.
“We agreed on how best the activities of Parliament can be incorporated in those being implemented by the government structures. MPs will join and be incorporated in the district COVID-19 taskforces as members,” Kadaga said.
She added, “Accountability of this money shall be made to the accounting officer of Parliament with the copy to the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of the district. MPs will adhere to the government guidelines on COVID-19 and shall not distribute food and organise meetings.”
The MPs will spend the funds advanced by the Commission on the interventions meant to support the national response to COVID-19 in districts.
Speaking about the Court Order to halt distribution of this money, the Speaker said that by interfering with the Shs10 billion, the judge is interfering with the whole supplementary of Shs304 billion, putting it all under injunction because it was all in one bill.