Today in Parliament | 6th December 2023

Today in Parliament | 6th December 2023

Greetings from CSBAG and the Parliament of Uganda!

This is an update from the Parliament of Uganda marking the 21st 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, Speaker said “The 13th Edition of the East African Community Inter-Parliamentary Games gets underway this week in Kigali, Rwanda. The Parliament of Uganda is ably represented. I urge the Members representing Uganda at the games, to exhibit a proper befitting image of the country. We wish them success in all the sporting disciplines they are taking part in”. She also warned MPs representing Uganda at the East African Games in Rwanda, against shaming their country by sleeping in cheap hotels, saying the US$720 (Shs2,719,602)  that they will earn as per diem should be enough to get them decent hotels, instead of camping in cheap hotels of US$20 (Shs75,533). “I want to encourage MPs that as you go there, represent Uganda well in terms of discipline. I am giving you money, US$ 720 per day and you go and sleep in a room of US$20. that is unacceptable for a Member of Parliament, members go and represent us well, represent us well, don’t go and live in a miserable way”. Among said. The Presiding Officer also later informed MPs that the Parliament Catholic Chaplaincy will hold a high mass and lighting of the Christmas tree today at 5:00 pm in the Conference Hall. “The main celebrant was the Bishop of Mityana. You are accordingly notified and invited”. Among said.

Reacting to the Speaker’s communication, Hon. Macho Geoffrey (MP, Busia Municipality, Busia, INDP) was concerned about the statement made by the NUP Party President, Hon. Kyagulanyi that the Opposition MPs were influenced by President Museveni to pass The Anti- Homosexuality law. Hon. Basalirwa Asuman (MP, Bugiri Municipality, Bugiri, JEEMA) the mover of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, said that the legislation (AHA) was the most popular law in the history of this Parliament and denied recent statements made by Robert Kyagulanyi, NUP President that the Opposition MPs were influenced by President Museveni to pass this law and asked fellow MPs to stand firm against any intimidation. “It isn’t true that anybody could have used any of us to bring that piece of legislation because in any case, it isn’t new in this Parliament. I am also aware that the forces behind promoting homosexuality are very strong. They have money and influence. And I know that some of our colleagues are under pressure. There is a lot of pressure, there is a lot of intimidation. These forces from Britain, and America have come to my office and I have engaged them, they are looking for allies”. Basalirwa said. He added “As a country, we must stand our ground. God who created us will make us survive, this idea of saying we are cutting aid, we don’t go to America, Britain, yes it is their right. But nobody should determine how we think”. 

Speaker Anitah Among later fired back at the United States for imposing a visa ban on 348 MPs who supported the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023, revealing that her visa request was also rejected, but she doesn’t regret backing the controversial law. “We don’t regret passing this law, and I want to thank the President for really assenting to this law. I am proud and happy with what the President did. We will continue protecting the family, protecting the rights of our children and our country and we will not live on handouts. My visa was cancelled, have I died? As I have said, so long as you don’t cancel the visa to Bukedea and Buyende, I have my home. I will go there freely”. Among said.  

The Speaker’s remarks were in response to a recent pronouncement by the United States Gov’t that imposed a visa ban and travel restrictions on 348 MPs and their immediate family members, for voting in favour of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. “The blacklist that they are talking about, don’t care don’t worry about that, you have all that you need in this country. So long as your kids aren’t being sodomised, this business of saying you are going to use people’s children must stop”. Among further said. On the same note, the Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Hon. Chris Baryomunsi said “As a government and Ugandans, we must remain firm. We may be poor but not desperate that we will dangle our resources and lose our values.  Nobody should be threatened by these actions of international actors. If they cherish homosexuality, let them cherish it. As Ugandans, we don’t”. The State Minister for Trade, Industry & Cooperatives, Hon. Bahati David who is also the (MP, Ndorwa County East, Kabale, NRM) on his part said “The NUP President made reckless statements on international television condemning his own members saying they were influenced by President Museveni. We should remain firm in the law we passed against homosexuality. We believe that several black males are being traded around. On top of the numerous restrictions, the threats have continued but the house should remain united”.

Hon. Ebwalu Jonathan (MP, Soroti West Division, Soroti City, INDP) advised Ugandans opposed to the Anti-Homosexuality Act to relocate to nations like the US and the UK where such values are embraced, saying he is ready to shed blood to fight against homosexuality in Uganda. “Our people told us to go and pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and we did. Those who don’t want that law let them leave our country and go and live in the United Kingdom or the United States. But this law, we are going to protect it with our blood, sweat, and our souls. If they want to cut their aid, let them cut, but we are going to defend this law”. said Ebwalu.

Parliament later expressed displeasure with the government for the failure of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal, Industry and Fisheries to present a Statement on the Commemoration of the World Fisheries Day being celebrated in Buliisa District today, Wednesday, 06 December 2023.

Later, Parliament also authorized the Government to borrow up to US$325 million (Shs1.23 trillion) from the International Development Association of the World Bank, to finance the Uganda Climate Smart Agricultural Transformation Project. The loan was to be topped up with a grant worth US$25 million (Shs94.5billion). The project sought to modernize Uganda’s agricultural sector in a bid to increase productivity and promote value addition through agro-processing in line with the Uganda Vision 2040 prospect of establishing economic lifeline industries.  The Deputy Chairperson of the National Economy Committee, Hon. Robert Migadde, said the loan disbursements would be triggered only when the government has prepared and adopted the legal covenants required by the World Bank. No withdrawal of funds will be made for components like clean energy equipment, harvesting machinery, and infrastructure as well as production input grants, unless the government has prepared and adopted the grants manual in form and substance acceptable to the World Bank. “The Committee recommended that the Ministry of Agriculture should ensure that the loan disbursement conditions are fulfilled to trigger timely release of the loan credit for the project objectives to be met as planned,” Migadde said. He added that it was essential for the government to establish incentives to strengthen private sector involvement that will enable the agriculture sector to effectively and efficiently contribute to strengthening the resilience of agricultural households and ecosystems.

The Committee also noted the low absorption of funds for loan-financed projects in the agricultural sector, attributed to the slow pace by the government to fulfill loan conditions, costly land compensation claims, and inadequate project preparedness among other factors. “The Committee recommended that the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Agriculture should ensure that all inefficiencies that affect the absorption of funds for debt-financed projects in the agriculture sector are mitigated,” Migadde added.  

Reacting to the Committee Report, Hon. Muwuma Milton Reinhard Kalulu (MP, Kigulu County South, Iganga, NRM) said “We have so many programmes being implemented but the technical people supposed to advise and guide beneficiaries are thin on the ground. I encourage the government to address this by lifting the ban on recruitment to ensure that we have the necessary extension workers on the ground”. On the same note, Hon. Kabasharira Naome (MP, Rushenyi County, Ntungamo, INDP) asked the government to provide more support to agricultural research. “Agencies that do a lot of work to develop our agriculture like the National Agricultural Research Organization and National Animal Genetic Resources Centre have been left underfunded. If we invested more money there, the country can benefit”. said the member.

Parliament also approved Shs3.5 trillion from local commercial banks to fund the supplementary budget and Shs554.689 billion from China to finance the e-government infrastructure project phase.

The Speaker afterwards adjourned the House to Wednesday, December 13, 2023, at 2pm, when the Budget Framework Paper for Financial Year 2024/25 will be tabled.

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