By Umaru Kashaka
Lack of enough budgetary allocations for court and human rights tribunal awards is responsible for soaring domestic arrears totaling to sh164.2b.
The House Committee on budget has called upon the Government to urgently avail the ministry of justice and constitutional affairs the additional amount of money to enable it settle the arrears, saying sh4.347b that was provided for in next year’s budget for this activity is inadequate.
The MPs recommendation is contained in their report to Parliament.
They argued that failure to settle the awards tantamounts to non-observance of rule of law and due process, saying besides; it leads to escalation of arrears which cause 'hemorrhage' to the national coffers.
“Besides the cumulative aspect, there are some high profile court awards which attract high interest rates as high as 30% per annum. Every effort should be made to settle the outstanding commitments. Delay to settle these claims is actually an abuse of human rights since victims of human rights abuses have even lost their means of livelihood,” the Tororo County MP who is also the shadow minister for finance, Geoffrey Ekanya, told New Vision.
The MPs also urged the government to stop selective compensation payments and come up with a clear policy on the payments for the Court Awards and Compensations.
“Human rights awards should be separated from other compensations and cleared expeditiously as they usually involve the poor and voiceless,” the committee recommended.
MPs also asked the government to provide an additional sh1.2b to enable the ministry defend the civil cases in different courts of law.
This was after the committee was informed that the Attorney General’s chambers has 6,600 civil suits in the courts of law with a contingent liability of sh2.0 trillion.
Of these cases, the committee heard that 3,096 are actively going on in various courts and tribunals and that currently the Directorate of Civil Litigation has a provision of only sh447m annually for its day to day operations, which gives a ration of sh150, 000 per case which is very meager.
“We have recommended that government provides extra sh1.2b to enable the ministry defend these cases professionally and save the government a lot of money otherwise lost as a result of failure by the ministry to defend them,” the Agago County MP Amos Okot said.
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