Today in Parliament |15TH NOVEMBER 2023

Today in Parliament |15TH NOVEMBER 2023

Greetings from CSBAG and the Parliament of Uganda!

This is an update from the Parliament of Uganda marking the 13th Sitting of the 1st Meeting of the 3rd Session of the 11th Parliament. This Sitting was chaired by the  Speaker Rt. Hon. Anitah Among. In her communication, the Speaker said “Following my directive yesterday, the report of the Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry on the inquiry into the governance of; and value for money for budgetary appropriations to cooperatives for financial years 2011/12 to 2022/23 was uploaded. I urge you Members to read and internalize it”. She added “In the meantime, I urge the relevant Public investigative agencies; namely the IGG, CID, and DPP to whom the report was referred yesterday, to report back on the progress of their investigations within three (3) months”. Among also said “You may be aware that the school term is soon drawing to a close and learners will embark on their longest annual holiday, the third term holidays. It is in times like these that parenting is put to the test. I urge all parents, guardians, and other stakeholders to ensure that there is effective parenting. In all our interactions with those learners, let us protect them from the prevailing evils that society notably; sexual exploitation, violence, human trafficking, and child abuse among others”. 

The Presiding Officer also commended Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) for patching up roads in the city but advised that this be pushed across all city roads. “KCCA is doing a good job but they are only patching up where they expect visitors to pass. I request KCCA to equally work on all roads in the city because it will benefit all of us”. Among said. The Speaker also raised concerns about business owners who she said are erecting buildings in un-designated areas like trenches and wetlands. The Speaker also noted with concern that “I have also noted that some government agencies continue to grapple with unreliable electricity and water supply. The Police, military, and prisons continue to incur huge expenditure on these utilities yet oftentimes, the inhabitants of the barracks suffer unreliable water and electricity supply.  Considering that some of the utility companies are government entities, it is prudent to devise a Government to Government (G to G) billing and payment modalities so as to ensure better living conditions for the affected government employees and their families”. Among also highlighted that “Hon. Members, my attention has been drawn to a Press Conference by some Members of Parliament regarding the hosting of AFCON 2027. I urge Members not to speculate about decisions regarding the venues of the Tournament. There are specific requirements by the Confederation of African Football to qualify to host venues. The matters being raised by the Members can be addressed at an appropriate platform and not necessarily through a Press Conference”.

Reacting to the Speaker’s communication, The Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Hon. Chris Baryomunsi who is also the (MP,  Kinkizi East MP, Kanungu, NRM) asked MPs to separate AFCON from the government commitment to constructing stadia across the Country. The Government Chief Whip, Hon. Obua Denis Hamson who is also the (MP, Ajuri County, Alebtong, NRM), reacting on the issue of business owners who have buildings in un-designated areas like trenches and wetlands, said Cabinet took a decision to cancel all land titles issued within wetlands. All the involved persons will be prosecuted in accordance with the law. It is incumbent upon respective organs of government through the line ministries, to swing into action,” Obua said. On the same note, The Minister for Water and Environment, Hon. Betty Anywar, cited challenges of forged certificates issued in wetlands, as well as persons carrying out illegal degradation activities. “National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is in the process of cancelling these forged certificates and titles. I pray that we take responsibility as a country to report people degrading our land,” Anywar added. 

Hon. Musana Eric (MP, Buyaga East County, Kagadi, INDP) asked govt to take interest in the state of bridges around the country during the rainy season. “We urge MoWT and UNRA to intervene and work on these bridges”. Musana said. Hon. Biraaro Ephraim Ganshanga (MP, Buhweju West County, Buhweju, NRM), reported that improvements on road infrastructure are often prioritized with districts on highways, leaving out those not situated along highways. “Districts that are in corners like Bujweju have virtually no road, be it a district or community road. I appeal that such districts should get special affirmative action,” said Biraaro.

Hon. Ochai Maximus (MP, West Budama North County, Tororo, NRM), called on the Ministry of Works to repair the Tororo-Nagongera. In response, the Government Chief Whip noted that of the Shs1 billion appropriated to each district, city, and municipality in Uganda for road maintenance, Shs500 million has already been disbursed. Hon. Omara Paul (MP, Otuke County, Otuke District, INDP), acknowledged receipt of the Shs500 million in Otuke district, saying “…interventions are already being done to ensure our people have the roads they deserve”. The Presiding Officer urged MPs to get involved in monitoring the effective utilization of the disbursed funds.

The Minister of State for Mglsd Hon. Hellen Asamo who is also the PWD Representative later presented a statement on the commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) due on 03 December 2023. The theme of the day is, ‘The Role of Innovations in Disability Inclusion’. Asamo told MPs that the Ministry of Education and Sports needs to explore innovations such as online sign language tutorials for secondary schools, and signed audio-visio copies of the curriculum, to mitigate the current teaching gaps in sign language. She added “Though UCC requires all TV stations to have sign language interpreters, this has not been fully achieved. But sub-titling of voice in most programs like it is done in international media is a reform that can help bridge the gap”. The Minister further said “The adoption of sub-titling of all voice speeches on television is another simple innovation, but with transformative results in the lives of persons with hearing impairment”. The Minister also said “persons with short stature require gov’t interventions to make adjustments for reasonable accommodation. “There is a need for MoFPED to issue a circular to banks to have a certain percentage of ATM machines at a lower height to cater to these people”.

The House then moved on to receive the Explosives Bill, 2023. The bill seeks to repeal the Explosives Act, Cap. 298 to provide for the establishment of a National Explosives Committee and the designation of the Chief Explosives Inspector to provide for restrictions on the manufacture, storage, use, dealing, import, export, and transportation of explosives; for the appointment of explosives inspectors and to provide for safety and precaution measures in the use and handling of explosives. According to the Chairperson Committee on Defence and Internal AffairsHon. Kajwengye Wilson Twinomugisha who is also the (MP, Nyabushozi County, Kiruhura, NRM), the Explosives Act was enacted in 1936 to regulate the manufacture, storage, sale, transportation, importation, exportation, and use of explosives. He added that the Act has not been amended to address technological developments in using, storing, and manufacturing explosives. The Chair also told MPs that the committee opines that explosive blasting operations may, in a way, affect the local population both positively and negatively. On the one hand, they may create jobs in quarrying and prosperity for the local people but on the other hand, they may pose risk, danger, and environmental issues. He further told MPs that as a result, the Committee deems it necessary to impose critical requirements on the person who uses explosives and blasting materials. The House later passed the Explosives Bill, 2023, into law.

The Speaker afterward adjourned the House to tomorrow, 16th November 2023. at 2:00 PM.

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