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Parliament to establish regional institute for parliamentary studies

By Henry Sekanjako

Added 18th February 2019 12:50 PM

Last year, Parliament Okayed Parliamentary commissioner Cecelia Ogwal to introduce a private members’ Bill establishing the one stop center training facility.

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File Photo

Last year, Parliament Okayed Parliamentary commissioner Cecelia Ogwal to introduce a private members’ Bill establishing the one stop center training facility.

PARLIAMENT      BILL

MPs on the Parliament’s committee on legal and parliamentary affairs have started examining the institute of parliamentary affairs Bill that seeks to establish an autonomous institute of parliamentary studies for MPs and local council leaders within the East African region.

Last year, Parliament Okayed Parliamentary commissioner Cecelia Ogwal to introduce a private members’ Bill establishing the one stop center training facility.

Tabled before Parliament for the first reading, the Bill was then forwarded to the committee on legal affairs for scrutiny, before it can be approved by parliament.

Appearing before the committee recently to justify the establishment of the institute, Ogwal told the committee the institute would help equip the legislators with knowledge and capacity development on policy matters.

“MPs particularly the new ones, need to be trained to understand the role that is expected of them. This will not be an ordinary institute where you go to the library and pick a books to read, but an institute that will train leaders,” stressed Ogwal.

The Idea of the Institute of Parliamentary studies (IPS) was mooted in 2008, by the parliamentary commission, and has been jointly funded by the commission and the West Minister Foundation of Democracy.

However to fully benefit other stakeholders such as local council leaders and legislators within the region, the commission saw it fit to have the institute granted a semi-autonomous status and  also professionalise services to MPs, parliament staff, as well as create mechanism, to link the legislators with the local councils at various levels.

“In order for the IPS, to deal directly with external stakeholders, on behalf of parliament, it will require a legal status. External stakeholders are primarily the local councils with whom Parliament shares some roles albeit at lower levels,” Ogwal said.

Ogwal noted that currently, human resource policies of the parliamentary commission are restricted to the internal operating environment of the parliamentary service yet IPS deals directly with outsiders.

Autonomous

The MPs however questioned why the Institute should be made independent yet it will be running under the Parliament of Uganda.

“You are creating another institution under Parliament. You will come here and wave a law that we are not under you,” Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the Kira Municipality MP said.

In response, Ogwal explained that it is best international practice for international parliamentary training institutes to have a legal status through legislation, adding that they are self-accounting and operate with autonomy within their parent parliamentary commissions.

Citing some of such institutes, Ogwal listed the center for parliamentary studies and training in Kenya, the East African Parliamentary training institute of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and the National institute for legislative and democratic studies of Nigeria among others.

Alex Byarugaba, the Isingiro South MP noted that the Institute has for a long time been operating under the institution of Parliament therefore limiting its parameters.

“Most of the institutions in government and parliaments in other countries have fully fledged institutes that train their staff and MPs so it is only fair that Parliament has an institution affiliated and established by law,” he said

Some MPs supported the idea, saying it would save government billions of money spent annually by the state on capacity building for public servants on policy issues.

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