MPs Compromised by Debt

“The Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, blames banking institutions for misleading members of parliament (MPs), who are often taken by surprise at the willingness to provide them with huge sums of money at short notice when they have just gone through costly campaigns. But the Speaker says that she attempted to advise MPs to live within their means but she was rebutted and that as a result many MPs are now at the mercy of loan sharks and banks.”

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These views were describing the status quo of MPs in 2014, when, at the time it was reported that MPs had reached out to President Museveni to help them service their debts. The plight of the MPs then even made it to international media. For example, an in-depth article titled: “Ugandan MPs Drown in Debt” was published by Aljezera.

Our MPs, it seems, have insufficient ‘money sense’ and tend not to take the time to know thy banker. The Speaker’s observations are likely true and it seems MPs signed off on loans without fully appreciating the costs of borrowing. In fact, in 2014 a friend wrote:

“Norah Owaraga, yesterday my other friend Phillip Karugaba asked what I could do for the apparent financial literacy need of MPs.

As I told Phillip, during the orientation of the current parliament, I was asked twice to prepare financial literacy presentations and on both occasions I was left hanging without saying a word.

I therefore tend to agree with the Rt Hon Speaker that her colleagues are impervious to good financial counsel – and it is a pity to see a similar cycle repeated in every parliament.”

Mr. James Abola, 2014

No wonder, MPs seem to often make decisions that are not necessarily for the greater good of the country and most especially so for the common man. In 2011, one recalls, it was alleged that MPs colluded with the Executive and passed a supplementary budget, which ensured that they each got a payment of 20 million shillings purportedly for “monitoring unspecified government programmes.”

Fast forward to 2020, MPs allocated themselves 10 billion shilling as they passed the supplementary budget for the nation’s fight against COVID-19; 20 million shillings for each MP. This time round, however, their self-allocation of public funds was heavily criticized, including by some MPs who sued Parliament and successfully got a court injunction stopping the release of funds.

Nevertheless, the funds were disbursed to the bank accounts of MPs. And now MPs have been requested to return the funds back into the national purse; or to their respective District COVID-19 task forces.

This latest scandal rages on, with Speaker Kadaga remaining defiant and alleging that the other two arms of government, executive and judiciary, are “attacking” Parliament.

Post featured photo: Parliament in Session (Source Daily Monitor)

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