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Mbarara councillors protest pay raise

By Adolf Ayoreka

Added 11th June 2020 05:51 PM

The Mbarara district budget for welfare and entertainment rose from sh6.5m to sh10m.

Mbarara councillors protest pay raise

Imam Kagiko and Tigefera speeking in the meeting.

The Mbarara district budget for welfare and entertainment rose from sh6.5m to sh10m.

By Adolf Ayoreka
The council session called by Mbarara municipality speaker Bonny Tashobya to pass the 2020/2021 budget turned
chaotic when the councillors rejected a proposal to increase their allowances.
The Wednesday meeting was held at larger Adit Mall instead of the White House to enable social distancing, one of the measures in place to help fight the coronavirus.
The budget has been increased to sh45.3b from sh43.7b the previous year.
Allowances increased According to the budget read by Shumbusa Mwesiga, the chairperson of the finance committee, the mayor's fuel allowance has been increased from sh7,779,000 to sh15,000,000 while that for the speaker and his deputy
rose from sh4m to sh5m.
The councillors' sitting allowances have been increased from sh160,000 to sh180,000 per sitting while their transport allowances have been increased from sh100,000 to sh150,000 per meeting. The budget for welfare and entertainment rose from sh6.5m to sh10m.
The increase had been discussed and sanctioned by the business committee, which comprises chairpersons of sectoral committees chaired by the speaker and guided by mayor and town clerk.
The local government ministry has advised that given COVID-19, not all councillors should attend meetings discussing the budgets so as to observe social distancing.
Therefore, out of the 50-member council, only seven who head sectoral committees took part in scrutinising the budget.
Amos Katurebe, the councillor representing Nyamityobora Ward A in Kakoba Division, raised the red flag regarding
the allowances.
Katurebe, who was recognised as an anti-corruption hero for 2019 by President Museveni, said if he were the Police chief, all the people who were behind the budget would be in jail. "This is unacceptable," he said.
"You cannot increase allowances at a time when the council has no revenue for projects. You people took advantage of our absence and decided to do whatever you wanted," Katurebe said.
This was re-echoed by Godfrey Tumusiime, a councillor for Kicwamba Ward in Nyakayojo Division, who wondered how the business committee could increase the allowances of councillors, mayors and others without indicating the source of the money.
speaker put on spot The speaker asked Theo Tibihika, the town clerk, to disclose where the money will come from. Tibihika said despite the revenue base being badly affected by the lockdown, he was optimistic the revenue target would be realised after the lockdown ended.
"We appreciate the fact that before the lockdown came into force, the municipal council had not collected much revenue and this has affected us, but that does not mean that those people will not pay us by way of arrears. We shall
have to collect this money," the speaker explained.
Betty Tigefera, the councillor representing Kakoba Ward, said: "There is no way you are going to tell a person to pay
 for months he has not worked, those running shops that have been closed cannot pay, arcadeowners cannot pay licence
charges because they have not been working. I find the town clerk's explanation lacking," Tigefera said.
The debate became so heated, forcing the speaker to adjourn the meeting for some minutes.
When they returned, Eunice Asiimwe, a councillor representing people living with disabilities, moved a motion to approve the budget upholding the increase in the allowances contrary to what some councillors had wanted.
It is feared revenue targets are unlikely to be realised given the damage from COVID-19.

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