The biggest challenge has been the funding of Parliamentary Commission Budget. While the public is always castigating Parliament, they forget that the role of Parliament as per the Constitution, is to legislate, to carry out oversight of all government programmes and to appropriate funds.
The challenge is for Parliament to achieve its vision and mission. It is important that the public also gets to know that they need to facilitate Parliament to deliver on its mandate. It is also important for the public to appreciate the role of Parliament well aware that Parliament is the second arm of government with a clear mandate in the Constitution.
Are Members of Parliament overpaid?
While the law gives Parliament powers to appropriate funds, there is a challenge where Finance ministry officials send us indicative planning figures, which are far less than what we require as an institution. How do you expect us to deliver on our mandate without the required funds?
Parliament has actually done extremely well in spite of the meagre resources which have been given. But for us to check government properly, we need funds.
Is Parliament overpaid? Not at all.
We are not overpaid and our budget percentage is even small compared to those of ministries. If you look at the order of precedence in terms of the hierarchy, the permanent secretary of a ministry is paid about Shs15m and a Member of Parliament is paid only Shs6 million as salary. And on top of that, the permanent secretary has all privileges at their disposal - a high class vehicle, they have fuel, a fully furnished office with a secretary, etc.
But in the case of a Member of Parliament, what do they have? Government gives you a one-off money for a vehicle, which is not even suitable for a Member of Parliament. Yet the MP pays the driver, pays the secretary and this on top of being subjected to so many demands from their constituents, and other people.
In fact, a Member of Parliament’s demands are so many. However, we are balancing the demand of what should be given to us and at the same time helping government to deliver services.
It is not about consumption but we are appealing to government that in future they should look at the legislature as a priority for salary enhancement.
The public does not appreciate what we get vis-à-vis the demands people put on us. Some people even get 50m per month yet there is even corruption in some of those entities. But I want to call upon the public that whenever Parliament makes a case of additional money, they should listen to us, they should not castigate us that we are paid well.