Today in Parliament/ 20th February 2024

UPDATES FROM PARLIAMENT, TUESDAY 20TH FEBRUARY 2024: Gov’t tables The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2023; Speaker Anitah removes ineffective MPs from the PAC Committee; MPs approve The Animal Feeds Bill, 2023

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the Africa Leadership Institute and the Parliament of Uganda!

This is an update from the Parliament of Uganda marking the 12th Sitting of the 3rd 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 ordered for the re-designation of MPs & transfer of all staff who snubbed the induction training at Serena Hotel-Kigo. The Speaker emphasized that their absence from the training resulted in wasteful spending by the Parliamentary Committee. She added that its it is necessary for them to step down from the Accountability Committees in order to make room for MPs who are committed to fulfilling their legislative responsibilities. “If we can’t be accountable to ourselves, then why do we want to have other institutions accountable, whatever we made at Parliament is a nugatory expenditure which isn’t called for, because of wasteful expenditure are making us go through and I am going to ask the whips to re-designate the MPs who and the staff of Parliament are making us go through and since you don’t like being in accountability committees, I am going to ask the Whips to re-designate the MPs who were in those Committees and didn’t attend the workshop and let us give those who are interested to go to those Committees”. Anitah said. The Speaker disclosed that an induction workshop was organized for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Central and the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), where several MPs and parliamentary staff were invited. However, out of the 90 MPs who were supposed to attend, only half of them actually participated. “When we send you for an induction you don’t go, and when you are interacting with witnesses you may not know what to ask the witness, our performance is determined by what we do at Committee and in the House and whereas Parliament wants other institutions to do accountability, as Parliament, we should lead by example. As Parliamentary Commission, we paid all the money for hosting all the MPs who were going to sleep in the hotel, unfortunately only 50% attended and remember that is one of your roles as MPs where a member is obligated to attend both Committees and plenary what was in the hotel was a Committee induction”. the Speaker said.

The Minister of Public Service, Hon. Muruuli Mukasa later tabled the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2023 for first reading. The Bill was forwarded to the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for scrutiny and report back. The Bill seeks to merge Equal Opportunities Commission with Uganda Human Rights Commission to form one commission that performs the functions of both commissions. This is intended to remedy the duplication of the roles and functions of the two commissions and to cut costs of administration. The Bill also seeks to dissolve the Uganda Law Reform Commission and establish a department responsible for law reform in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

Other bills that were received by the House include : The National Tribunal Bill, 2023; Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2024.; The Rationalization of Government Agencies (Social Development Sector) (Amendment) Bill, 2024; The Rationalization of Government Agencies (Tourism Sector) (Amendment) Bill, 2024; Karamoja Development Agency (Repeal) Bill, 2024; The Uganda National Information Technology Authority, Uganda (Amendment) Bill, 2024 and; The National Records and Archives (Amendment) Bill, 2024; The Rationalization of Government Agencies (Works and Transport Sector) (Amendment) Bill, 2024. These Bills were referred to different committees for scrutiny.

Reacting to the Bills tabled, Hon. Basalirwa Asuman (MP, Bugiri Municipality, Bugiri District, JEEMA) accused the Attorney General of frustrating their efforts to bring comprehensive legal reforms, including the National Legal Aid Bill, 2022. Former LOP, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga requested more information on the government’s energy sector plans, specifically regarding Umeme Ltd’s successor agency, whose concession expires next year. “I have not heard anything to do with the energy sector [on the rationalization policy] yet I am aware that gov’t is shopping around for either a succession company or merging the same”. Mpuuga said. Hon. Nathan Byanyima (MP, Bukanga North, Isingiro District, NRM) questioned the government’s delay in presenting a bill to consolidate UETCL, UEDCL, and UEGCL into a single entity, as previously suggested. The Attorney General, Hon. Kiryowa Kiwanuka on his part affirmed that the Government is in the last phase of implementing extensive constitutional reforms. He also informed MPs that the bills under consideration in Parliament pertain to entities established through Acts of Parliament. “The entities created by an Act of Executive do not have to come to the House but the ministers concerned can report to the House”. he said

The House then moved on to consider The Animal Feeds Bill, 2023 under second reading. This was presented by the State Minister of Animal Industry, Hon. Bright Rwamirama, who also doubles as the (MP, Isingiro County North, Isingiro District, NRM). The Animal Feeds Bill, 2023 seeks to provide a legislative framework for operationalisation of the Animal Feeds Policy by regulating the production, importation, exportation, and marking of animal feeds and by establishing the Animal Feeds Committee to regulate the same. The Chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture, Hon Janet Okori-moe who also doubles as the (WR, Abim District, NRM) presented the committee findings. According to the committee, all means of transport, whether privately owned or contracted, bulk or packed, and by water, rail, or land should be regulated to control and minimize the risk of contamination of animal feeds. “The production, processing, storage, transportation & distribution of safe & suitable feed feeds is the responsibility of all participants in the feed value chain, including farmers, feed ingredient manufacturers, and feed compounders, among others”. the Chair said. She further noted that The Animal Feeds Bill of 2023 forbids the trade of animal feeds that have been adulterated or contaminated. “The Committee is alive to the need for a comprehensive & responsive law that addresses production, processing, storage, and sale of animal feeds”. she added. The House later passed the Animal Feeds Bill, 2023 with amendments.

The Speaker afterwards adjourned the House to Tuesday, 27th February 2024 at 10:00am

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