By Andante Okanya
Kabula County MP James Kakooza has been granted permission to proceed with the case where legislators in the ninth Parliament are demanding instant access to their gratuity, as and when they desire it.
High Court in Kampala, civil division registrar Eudes Keitirima, on Tuesday endorsed Kakooza's move, after hearing submissions from his lawyer Carol Kintu.
Keitirima ordered that announcements must be placed in the two English daily newspapers to relay information on the MPs.
"Having listened to submissions by counsel for the applicant (Kakooza), this application is granted. Notice of the suit will be advertised in the New Vision or Monitor newspapers," Keitirima said.
The case arose this year on February 20, when the former Primary Health Care minister petitioned court, demanding that legislators access their gratuity as they wish, saying the Parliament Remuneration of Members Act emphasizes it.
According to court documents, Kakooza states that the previous mode of payment for MPs gratuity was altered without their consent. Government chief legal advisor, the Attorney General and the Parliamentary Commission are listed as respondents. There are 375 MPs.
Both respondents were not represented in court. The granting of the permit implies that other MPs can join Kakooza and be listed on court documents.
Court documents, indicate that Kakooza has been receiving sh780,000 as gratuity since September 2011. Kakooza claims that together with his colleagues, they earlier petitioned the Parliamentary Commission and demanded that the gratuity be paid at the end of a period of 12 months of service.
Kakooza states that MPs have been denied access to their gratuity, despite numerous pleas for the money. The term of the MPs began on May 17, 2011.
“Sometime in September 2011, the Clerk to Parliament without consulting MPs, decided to stop monthly payment of gratuity and instead caused the opening of an account with Crane Bank where MPs gratuity is paid,” Kakooza states in an affidavit filed in support of the petition.
Kakooza states that ordinary MPs have been receiving monthly gratuity payment of 30% of their gross income while ministers receive 40% of the same. On average, an MP’s monthly emoluments totals to about sh22m.
Kakooza contends that the decision to hold the MPs gratuity payment and deposit it in the account which is a deposit only account, has inconvenienced them, as they have suffered damage.
The AG and the Parliamentary Commission are yet to respond to Kakooza's petition.