Members of Parliament have asked the Executive to desist from arbitrarily cutting the budgets meant for Parliament and the Judiciary saying it is a violation of the principle of separation of powers.
In the second quarter of the current financial year, Parliament and the Ministry of Finance locked horns over budgets meant to facilitate committees and other activities which officials at the Finance Ministry had frozen, reasoning that following the COvid-19 pandemic, budget lines across government were frozen.
This, said MP Jonathan Odur (UPC, Erute South), is an attempt at re-writing the budget, an action he termed illegal and unconstitutional.
“The Ministry of Finance should never at any one point attempt to revise or freeze the budgets without coming back to this very House especially when attaching the budget of the Judiciary and Parliament because these are independent arms of government,” he said.
MP Anthony Akol (FDC, Kilak South) agreed.
“By the time they are tampering with the budget…if there is anything that needs to be changed, they should come back to Parliament,” said MP Akol.
“The power of appropriation lies with us [Parliament]; when we were here in the last Parliament, we passed the budget of the Parliamentary Commission and it is not prudent for Ministry of Finance to sit there and change,” said MP Muhammad Nsereko (Indep., Kampala Central).
Deputy Speaker Anita Among said the Parliamentary Commission is frustrated because the budget cuts have crippled committee activities, which are essential in processing the business of the House.
“It is so disturbing that our committees cannot work; when you find Finance cutting off money that is coming to Parliament, it disturbs. If Parliament cannot do an oversight role, then what are we left with?” she said.
“We passed a resolution yesterday in the Parliamentary Commission that Finance should never tamper with the budget of Parliament and Judiciary…let’s have respect for separation of powers,” she added.
Hon Thomas Tayebwa
Government Chief Whip Thomas Tayebwa budged.
“I just want to reassure colleagues that the leadership of the House has been engaging with government and I know further engagements are going to happen. We are all in support of the leadership of the House because all these Ministers are Members of Parliament; We are going to work with you on the side of the executive to ensure that this does not happen again,” he said.