Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah has directed all committees of Parliament to stop holding inquiry sessions with government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) outside the precincts of Parliament, saying it is a breeding ground for corruption.
While opening the plenary session on Tuesday, Mr Oulanyah instructed all committee chairpersons and leadership at the House to avoid conference hall meetings funded by MDAs.
“No MDA shall finance the activities of committees of Parliament because doing so will end up undermining the independence and authority of this institution,” Mr Oulanyah said.
He added: “Chairpersons, vice chairpersons, Members [of Parliament], clerks to committees, this is directed to you. This independence that we sing about, glorify and shout about, this is the easiest way to erode it if you have people secretly financing it.”
Ms Flavia Kabenda (Kyegegwa Woman) and Ms Cecilia Ogwal (Dokolo Woman) asked the Speaker on the specific process to be followed since some entities such as the Ministry of Finance had already invited the some committees.
“I want to bring to the attention of the House if it can be allowed or not to be allowed is that they can arrange a meeting in conference hall or hotel. How do we handle?” Ms Ogwal asked.
She proposed that all MDAS attend committee sessions at Parliament.
“I would prefer government agencies to use parliamentary premises. I find it difficult for us to hold meetings within the boardrooms of either URA (Uganda Revenue Authority) or whatever it is when we have our humble conference hall,” she said.
In response, the Speaker directed that all MDAs write to his office seeking clearance to host such meetings.
“This House has leadership which is known. The leadership of Finance [or any other MDA] does not give you [committee chairpersons] authority or direct you to go anywhere. I am the one who does or the Deputy Speaker,” Mr Oulanyah said.
He added: “So if you make secret arrangements with the Ministry of Finance that you just get out without my knowledge, then that becomes a big problem. They cannot write to you directly. That would be bad manners. So just follow the procedure.”
He also advised that a breakdown of the specifics of the matters that MDAs seek to engage any committee be communicated in a letter addressed to the Speaker.
“The Ministry of Finance must write to the Speaker seeking the release of these members and also state in this letter that we are preparing some money for transport, accommodation or whatever you are trying to arrange,” Mr Oulanyah said.
He added: “It is up to me to assess whether I have the funds to facilitate the chairpersons and my members from my budget as Parliament, then I decline your money, I will facilitate my members.”
Recently, Mr Oulanyah directed that all MPs conduct thorough research before attending plenary sessions to ensure informative and quality debates.
He also directed them to undergo a four-day induction training on Monday, October 1,2 and 4th.
The Speaker said the MPs will be trained on their roles and rules of procedures of Parliament, among other issues.