The budget committee meeting of parliament on Tuesday turned stormy as Members of Parliament disagreed over what they termed ‘’selective distribution’’ of hand hoes by government.
While appearing before the budget committee to present a report on the Agriculture sector, Ms Janet Grace Okori-moe, the Abim District woman MP who is the chairperson of the Agriculture committee of Parliament, was tasked by her colleagues to explain the procurement of hoes and why only selected MPs were given hoes for their constituents.
The matter was first raised by Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal who questioned the whereabouts of the hoes since many MPs did not receive the hoes.
According to Ogwal, two years ago MPs were given 100 hoes each, but since Parliament passed the budget for hoes in 2018, there are more requests for hoes.
Ms Ogwal alleged that the hoes were selectively given to MPs and Ministers who are close to the Government. She said that communities in Dokolo did not receive hoes.
“We gave you money to buy the hoes last financial years the year that preceded, where are the hoes? We have heard and this is actually a confirmed rumour, that each minister got 25,000 hoes and some few MPs who voted for the age limit,” she said.
However, Mr Solomon Silwanyi, the MP Bukooli Central MP who is also a commissioner of Parliament dismissed the allegations. He asked the chairperson Patrick Isiagi to rule Ogwal out of order saying hoes were distributed fairly.
“Hon Ogwal has raised an allegation in this committee which is unfair, baseless and misinformed,” he said.
The MPs had complained earlier that hoes were being given in their constituents without their involvement, but Government later decided to give the MPs hoes to distribute.
According to Ms Okori-moe, 800,000 hoes were procured and the requested the Minister to distribute them through the leaders. She said both her and members of the committee were not aware on the procedure of getting the hoes.
The hoes were given against the advice of the committee leadership so whoever got, I am not aware and I don’t have the list. These are questions you should ask the minister because when I came there was no allocation under my name,” she said.
Ms Okori-moe also turned guns on MP Silwanyi when he tried to press her further on the whereabouts of the said hoes.
“Hon Silwanyi, you are a commissioner and vice chairperson of the caucus, I believe you are privy to some of these things, so if things did not go well in your office, please do not transfer the blame on other people,” an irritated Okori-moe said.
The Committee, however, did not come to a conclusion on the matter of the hoes, as they were scheduled to meet other stakeholders.
Attempts to contact the Agriculture Minister Vincent Ssempijja to comment on the matter were futile.
President Yoweri Museveni in his 2016 election manifesto promised to avail hoes to every household to support agricultural production.