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MPs want Parliament to manage its own budget

Members of Parliament have proposed an amendment to the country’s laws that would allow the August House to manage its budget to enhance its oversight role.

Currently, the Parliament’s budget is managed by Treasury and the former makes proposals before embarking on any mission, proposals which are either acceded to or denied, something which legislators feel is compromising their operations.

Speaking in Parliament last Tuesday, chairperson of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, Kindness Paradza, said waiting for Treasury disbursements was compromising Parliament business.

“Madam Speaker, I have noticed that as chairperson, sometimes we do not do our work as we are supposed to because of a number of issues,” bemoaned Paradza. 

“Those issues include budgetary issues. Sometimes when we want to do outreach programmes or benchmarking visits, like in our case in terms of Foreign Affairs, we deal with foreign relations and also oversight on our foreign policy as a country.” 

He elaborated: “Sometimes there is no money for that and it has been our wish Hon. Speaker that Treasury gives Parliament its budget so that we do our own internal disbursements rather than to wait for Treasury because sometimes most of the trips, I am sure you are aware of it, we cancel those trips because there will be no Treasury concurrence or if there is Treasury concurrence, they take time in disbursing the money.

So, sometimes the trips are not undertaken or sometimes our delegations go out there without money even for hotels, so it becomes a problem.  So, we need to look into those issues.”

Another MP, Prince Dubeko Sibanda, for Binga North, said the Parliament’s financial independence was key if the institution was to effectively deliver on its mandate.

“I will give you the example of Uganda again; in Uganda once a budget is passed, Parliament collects all its money and puts it in its bag,” said Sibanda. 

“It does not go back to the Executive to beg for some money.  Our current situation as Parliament is that we are entirely compromised because each and every time we want money to fund our activities which includes executive oversight functions, we will have to go and beg at Mthuli’s office.  Even administration of Parliament is known to go back to beg for money to fund a critical institution like Parliament.” 

Sibanda said it was regrettable that the Parliament has to beg from the Executive to conduct its duties.

“If you want to see what I mean Hon. Speaker, just have a look at how budgets have been changed from time and again,” he said. 

“There are certain areas where Parliament had budgeted for something and that budget had been passed.  Even after that budget had been passed, Parliament was not able to get all the money that had been budgeted for.  The reason is because of the way we are looked at by Treasury.” 

He added: “They look at us as if we are just like a department or we are just like a ministry.  We are not seen as a critical institution which is actually supposed to drive accountability in the Executive and because of that Hon. Speaker, we are compromised. We need to amend the law to an extent that Parliament should be able to collect all its money at one go.”

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