PARLIAMENT. Parliament on Wednesday passed into law the Landlord and Tenant Bill 2018 that will make it mandatory for all payments of rent to be transacted in local currency.
This comes as a relief to several traders in Kampala who have stood a test of paying their monthly rent United States Dollars.
There was a protracted fight for this currency of transactions since Tuesday as majority of the Members of Parliament were opposed to the proposal by the Committee on Physical Infrastructure that where agreeable between landlord and tenant, the rent could be paid in foreign currency.
On Tuesday evening, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga had to adjourn the House after the MPs failed to agree.
However, on Wednesday, after all the 57 clauses of the Bill were considered, the House returned to Clause 23 which generated another heated debate.
MPs on both sides of the floor and majority of the ministers present ganged up against Mr Gabriel Ajedra, the State Minister of Finance in Charge of General Duties who insisted that Clause 23 (3) be maintained to cater for the landlords who mortgage their properties in banks to get loans in foreign currency.
“Let us leave a window for the landlords who will have mortgaged their properties in banks to get loans in dollars. They need to pay back in the same currency,” Mr Ajedra argued.
But he was overpowered.
Kampala Central MP, Mr Muhammed Nsereko challenged Mr Ajedra saying the House must not legislate to weaken the Uganda shilling when traders from whom landlords would demand rent in foreign currency, have had to exchange their local currency with other currencies to buy goods abroad.
“If the landlords so wishes to have dollars let them move to the forex bureaus and buy dollars or Euros. Any legislation to have transactions in other currencies is a vote of no confidence in our currency,” he contended.
Other MPs who fought against the use of dollars and other foreign currencies include Gaster Mugoya (Bukoli North), Ms Lilly Adong (Nwoya Woman MP), Mr Nandala Mafabi (Budadiri West) among others.
However, Mr Ajedra insisted saying that foreign missions in Uganda need to be considered because their governments release to them the money for rent in their national currencies which would be a problem for them if only transactions will be made in Uganda shillings.
But the State Minister for Primary Health Care, Ms Sarah Opendi called him to order saying it is not proper for a Minister of Finance who is supposed to guard the local currency to sway away from a cabinet decision.
“This item was extensively discussed in Cabinet and Hon Ajedra was present. He did not object to the issue of landlords asking for rent in dollars,” Ms Opendi said.
The Minister for Trade and Industry, Ms Amelia Kyambadde also chipped in saying; “Uganda is a sovereign state” adding that there is need to promote local content.
Also in the Bill, the landlords will have to install prepaid electricity metres for all tenants to avoid extortion through hefty demands for payment of bills which they have not seen.