Editorial

Sh28b for securing MPs’ cars is wasteful

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Posted  Sunday, December 22  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

This kind of attitude, especially by the MPs, is not going to take the country forward. Yes, we recognise the need for security in the face of the many terrorist threats but good gadgets do not necessarily translate into good security, it is good intelligence and good relations that give more sustainable security.

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Parliament and the Ministry of Finance are locked in an argument over Sh28 billion that the former has requested in supplementary budget to fix a security system in the newly constructed parking complex at Parliamentary Building.

The five-level parking complex that accommodates 510 vehicles and is fitted with lifts, fire-fighting equipment, and an air extractor was built at a cost of Sh36 billion.

Parliament insists that it requires the money to ensure security of the MPs’ vehicles and their persons in general in light of terror threats, while ministry of Finance although it acknowledges the need for security, counsels that Parliament should explore cheaper alternatives for the moment, including increasing the number of police constables.

Finance ministry also throws it back at Parliament, saying it shot down some of its budget proposals like increasing tax levy on kerosene and charging VAT in up-country hotels so the resource envelop is limited.

This is not an argument Ugandans, many of whom are barely surviving on a meal a day, will want to hear because Sh28 billion is not small money; it can do many other things.

What the whole thing shows, however, is that Parliament has elevated itself to some privileged status that is oblivious of the general and basic needs of the rest of the country like medicines in hospitals, good roads, schools, etc and the Finance ministry would be glad to play along if the MPs only allowed it to tax the poor a little more!

This kind of attitude, especially by the MPs, is not going to take the country forward. Yes, we recognise the need for security in the face of the many terrorist threats but good gadgets do not necessarily translate into good security, it is good intelligence and good relations that give more sustainable security.

Parliament should, therefore, be looking to enhancing the welfare of our security forces (army and police) as the more sustainable way of ensuring their own security and that of other Ugandans. Having the best security in the car park when the streets are not secure is not smart thinking at all!