By Joyce Namutebi and Henry Sekanjako
Withthe bicycle saga still fresh in their minds, Members of Parliament have raised a red flag on the proposed purchase of 111 vehicles for district chairmen and six vehicles for the Ministry of Local Government.
Mukono Municipality MP, Betty Nambooze brought to the attention of the House information contained in the Ministry’s policy statement for this financial year and an advert in the national newspaper where the ministry is indicating that they are intending to procure the said vehicles.
She pointed out that the parliamentary committee on public service and local government is supposed to scrutinize the estimates of revenue and expenditure of the ministry and make recommendations, which is yet to be done.
She said that although this is still a proposal the ministry has already embarked on the process of procuring the vehicles by calling for bids.
“I find this irregular. It violates the Constitution and Rules of Procedure of Parliament,” Nambooze said adding that acts like these reduce Parliament to being a “rubber stamp.” She suggested that the minister and acting Permanent Secretary be summoned to Parliament to explain the matter.
She recalled the bicycle scam in the ministry and wished that the officials do not join their colleagues who have been committed to Luzira prison over the saga.
At the time Nambooze raised the query there was no minister from the Ministry of Local Government, but state minister for internal affairs, James Baba undertook to bring the matter to the attention of the minister.
Commenting on the matter Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah said if it is true that the proposal has been submitted to the House and an advert calling for bidders has gone into the newspaper before the House acts on the proposal “it is a serious problem.” He asked Baba to communicate to the minister to come and make a statement before closure of business yesterday.
When state minister for local government, Alex Onzima appeared, he observed that the MPs are aware of challenges chairperson face in implementing and monitoring of government programmes.
He explained that Parliament had passed Vote on Account for 2014/15 adding that the Ministry of finance had released Sh1b for purpose of procuring the vehicles.
Onzima said the Government took a decision to procure do procure double cabin pickups and avail them to districts and the Ministry of Local Government, who he said, consulted with the Ministry of Finance and agreed that they be purchased.
All the vehicles, he said, would be delivered this financial year, but paid for in three financial years. Sh4b has been allocated this financial year for this purpose.
He assured that the contract would be signed within the established procurement laws and regulations of Uganda.
On examining the advert, Nandala Mafabi (FDC) noted that said: “If you want to borrow money you must get parliamentary approval.” He said the PS has no parliamentary authority to borrow for him to pay in 2015/16. “From the advert, it is very clear that the PS who is the accounting officer has violated the law.”
Alice Alaso said: This is an attempt to circumvent scrutiny.”
The deputy speaker directed the local government committee to examine the procurement and advise on the way forward.
At the same sitting, works minister, Abraham Byandala promised to bring to Parliament, a statement on suspension of Air Uganda today (Wednesday).
His failure to submit the statement to Parliament yesterday did not go well with the Leader of Opposition, Wafula Oguttu, who said: “We come prepared and the ministers are not. We just can’t continue like that.”
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