Has 9th Parliament put money first and nation last?

Wednesday June 1 2011

By Richard Kagolobya

If I were asked, I would sadly say Uganda is one country full of political and economic contradictions befitting a slot in the Guinness Book of Records. Reason? How could MPs who were recently instructed by the President to conjure-up the controversial anti-bail and economic saboteurs Bill to counter the inflation-driven riots be the first to think of rewarding themselves with a pay raise to curb the effects of inflation on their salaries?

Reference is to the article, MPs want Shs50m advance, tax break’ (Daily Monitor, May 27). I quote: ‘A week after they were sworn-in, MPs yesterday demanded that government extends a Shs50 million advance to each of them among other proposals for an upward review in pay and a removal of taxes on cars…

To have their way, the lawmakers chased away journalists and stopped coverage of a plenary debate where they reportedly agreed to push for a pay raise in a move, according to sources, which is intended to shield them from rising cost of living biting other Ugandans’.

By doing all the above, the 9th Parliament presented itself as a needy and greedy House that can easily be compromised by monetary handouts from the Executive like their predecessors. The MPs’ plans and actions are a heinous act upon the already aching backs of taxpayers that can be surmised as aggravated patriotic and economic sabotage!

Similarly, by refusing the journalists to witness their uncouth discussions, they were closing the doors in the faces of the citizens who elected them in order to plan for their economic and political sins against the nation!

That is coupled with the sky-rocketing inflation of public ministries every five years that come by and their resultant cost of public administration which all weigh down on taxpayers. Given the duplicated ministries and 76 ministerial heads, it will continue to beat one’s political understanding if citizens continue to get shoddy services in return in the same package as the Naads and drug-stripped and dilapidated hospitals.

However, given the MPs salary increment scenario, one will not fail to bemoan the death and suffering of Ugandans who were shot, tear-gassed and imprisoned for their participation in the walk-to-work campaigns. This is because the MPs plans of increasing their pay to thwart the effects of inflation on their purchase power, somewhat validates the citizens’ recent actions and concern for government intervention to put to rest their inflation-driven troubles.

The MPS thoughts are a slap in the face of the President’s anti-bail and economic sabotage Bill proposal since their plans can trigger upheavals. That is, if they grant themselves the salary increment, the civil servants would be right to demand for a pay raise too and other citizens may take to the streets to demand equal treatment. Thus the MPs would be the first convicts of triggering economic sabotage!

Given Uganda’s current economic and political fragility, one would have expected MPs (majority of who are from the NRM), to be the last lot to think about salary increment. But their moral fibre and political logic incite them to think about money first and nation last! God save mother Uganda.

Mr Kagolobya is a lecturer at Makerere University

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