Efficiency of an e-Parliament justifies expenditure on iPads for legislators
Posted Sunday, March 10 2013 at 02:00
Parliament has a clear and vital role to play in the social economic transformation of our society, its other legislative responsibilities notwithstanding. Its core values lie in promoting rule of law, equitable and sustainable governance through effective legislation all based on the will of the people which forms a vital foundation for reducing poverty and ensuring sustainable development.
In order to achieve its objectives, Parliament has to be well facilitated, and its members not to be seen as part timers who would rather engage in debates of national importance on a part time basis as they divide their time to attend to other businesses in “Kikubo” to make ends meet. Also, these honourable members need to have the best and most efficient tools to access, consume, package and disseminate information pertaining their debates, policy, and development issues, and hence the justification for their proposed remuneration and iPad expenditure respectively.
With that said, in response to an article by Ms Beatice Mugambe that appeared in the Daily Monitor of March 6 titled ‘Put MPs’ iPad cash into the social protection programme’, theirs are not misguided priorities but essentials to reduce the excessive leakages and inefficiencies in other arms of government and increase accountability and transparency, efforts which have born some fruits so far, on several fronts to date.
That “Many people have high regard of the 9th Parliament for the quality of debate and its outcomes, yet Steve Jobs’ iPad and similar gadgets have even never been heard of by most Ugandans” is not the issue. Instead, the quality response to the electorates’ demands through fast and well captured, stored and shared information resulting from committee reports, debates and passed laws is what directly affects and should be of more importance to the Ugandan on the street.
In other countries such as Rwanda, every House Member has a tab which while not in use, remains docked at their seat. If the MP leaves the house and wants to own it, its depreciated and bought off at that calculated value, while the information accumulated through its use remains in the cloud/server, for the succeeding MP to inherit and seamlessly carry on business. The gains are cheap, fast, efficient, shareable and more easily transferable information in a paperless environment.
In a democracy, the House should be seen to be efficient in its operations, transparent in its actions, with strong citizenry linkages, and only a “Smart Parliament” or an e-Parliament can best achieve this.