By Umaru Kashaka
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and the State Minister for Finance Fred Omach Tuesday failed to break the deadlock over Parliament’s demand for sh28b to install security equipment in the multi-storey parking lot.
Kadaga, who had been asked by the parliamentary committee on budget to intervene following Omach’s suggestion that the issue be pushed to the next financial year due to resource constraints, reportedly insisted that the Treasury must urgently find at least sh10b needed to ship the gadgets to Uganda.
The MPs, led by Bulambuli County MP Wamakuyu Mudimi, contended that Parliament security needs to be enhanced by buying electronic surveillance gadgets including CCTV cameras and access cards for them to access the 500 vehicles’ underground parking lot.
Since the park was formally opened by President Yoweri Museveni in November last year, MPs have not been able to park their vehicles there because of security concerns.
However, Omach requested the MPs and the Speaker in her office for time to return to his superior (Maria Kiwanuka) over the matter.
After almost an hour, he reappeared before the committee with Kiwanuka’s letter she wrote last year asking the MPs’ to negotiate with the potential contractor with a view to scale down on the cost (sh28b) and also ensure that the contractor has the capacity to supply the equipment before being paid.
“No, we scale down on what? Who negotiated this? It’s not parliament, but the Police and this is classified. The service provider has already been instructed to manufacture the equipment and can’t therefore meet the tax obligation. May be you waive the tax,” the Bukedea Woman MP Rose Akol protested.
Her West Budama counterpart Fox Odoi asked the minister and his team to be “serious”, noting that the car park must be put to use now because a colossal sum of money (sh36b) was spent on its construction.
“This is rude (to tell us to wait). We have already spent a lot of the tax payer’s money on this park and can’t just be there for display; why can’t you ask for a supplementary?” Odoi implored.
However, the Kumi County MP Patrick Amuriat broke ranks with the committee questioning the motive behind the hurry to utilize the park when the Government has said there is currently no money.
“This (car park) facility is here for years and will not require any reinvestment. It looks bad for the Government to always come up with a supplementary budget. The minister has some reservations on the contract and is telling us to negotiate. Let’s save him and meet the parliamentary commission on this,” he suggested.
After several frantic attempts to have the ministry heed to their calls, the committee agreed to consult with the parliamentary commission and the police over the matter before interfacing with the minister again this Thursday.
The Parliament Commission pays $50 (about sh125,000) a month for each of the 100 MPs’ cars that Park at Bauman House private parking lot across from Parliamentary.