Parliament to spend Shs80m on care centre for MPs’ babies
Posted Sunday, February 24 2013 at 02:00
Global move. Legislators say move is acceptable in Commonwealth countries to ensure that female MPs are not disrupted during crucial discussions.
Parliament has agreed to spend over Shs80 million on a daycare centre to cater for the MPs’ and other staffers’ newborns. The fully furnished centre coming with an additional cost to the tax payer will act as a permanent breastfeeding centre.
Under the arrangement, Parliament will provide a safe haven and MPs and staff will be expected to pull resources to cater for their baby attendants and essential needs like pampers.
At the end of year party for Parliament staff recently, the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, announced that the Parliamentary Commission which she chairs, had taken a decision to repossess the former Sergeant at Arms House currently occupied by the President’s Office to be turned into a baby daycare centre for MPs and staff.
“Some MPs would keep their children in their vehicles and this was not healthy at all. Also last year we had 13 pregnant MPs and this year they are even more. We now want to rule out this excuse that the MPs are at home breastfeeding,” said Ms Jaria Bintu, a Parliament commissioner.
Parliament has 135 women MPs (35 per cent) majority of whom are in productive stage. Parliamentary spokesperson Hellen Kaweesi said the Shs80 milion will be spent on setting up the baby care centre. The money will be spent on refurbishing the centre, buying fridges, baby coats, and playing materials for babies.
The amount would be reflected in next financial year’s budget while the project is expected to begin as soon as the money is released.
The Sergeant at Arms, Mr Ahmed Kagoye, said: “We are trying to get funds to carry out renovations at the three bed-roomed space. The procurement process is on.”
Justifying the need for the project, another Parliamentary Commissioner, Mr Emmanuel Ddombo, said young children are entitled to their exclusive breastfeeding rights.
“Their mothers have to attend to parliamentary duty promptly. So with a baby centre in place, this will make their work more effective since they will not worry about their babies left in the hands of troublesome house helps,” he added.
“It’s a Commonwealth practice and even in America it’s accepted,” said Ms Kaweesa. The MPs have defended the spending of taxpayers’ money on the daycare centre for their children even if they can afford it. MPs earn about Shs21 milion monthly.
Mr Arinaitwe Rwakajara, the Workers MP, hailed the move, saying it will go a long way in helping breastfeeding working mothers to concentrate on their work, “hence improvements in productivity since the centre is within Parliament”.
Ms Betty Amongin, the chairperson Uganda Women Parliamentary Association, said the idea of having a baby care centre in Parliament was conceived by the association under the guidance of Ms Kadaga.
“We realised that most women who are joining politics lately are young women and some of them are fresh from campus. Those days politics was dominated by older women .We then worked closely with Kadaga to advocate for a conducive working environment for women who can balance roles but also remain effective in Parliament,” she said.