Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The State Minister for Finance-General Duties, Gabriel Ajedra has dismissed claims by Shadow Attorney-General Wilfred Niwagaba that he was denied a Certificate of Financial Implications for the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2019.
Niwagaba sought a certificate for his Bill immediately after being granted leave by parliament last month to introduce the Private Member’s Bill for its first reading.
However, he has since not acquired the Certificate of Financial Implication despite a letter dated 18th September from the Clerk to Parliament, Jane Kibirige, to the Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary Keith Muhakanizi, requesting for issuance of the Certificate.
Instead, the Finance Minister Matia Kasaija on 11th October engaged the Attorney General William Byaruhanga in a letter requesting an analysis of the financial implication that the proposed Bill poses on the economy.
“Reference is made to the attached letter Ref: AK 287/479/01 dated September 18, from Clerk to Parliament, requesting for a certificate of financial implications for the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2019. I note that there are a number of proposals that require your analysis and advice. These may also have financial implications on government,” Kasaija wrote to Attorney General.
He further requested Byaruhanga to bring the matter before Cabinet for consideration citing the nature of the proposals.
But Niwagaba told URN that the request from Minister Kasaija is baseless since it is only his ministry mandated to analyse financial implications of the Bill and offer guidance.
“He has referred the matter to the Attorney General who has nothing to do with that Certificate of Financial Implication. For us we are waiting for the time to expire and we will get back to the Speaker because once time expires the law presumes I have got gotten it then we move to the next stage,” said Niwagaba.
The Parliament Rules of Procedure provide for a 60-day rule for a Certificate of Financial Implication to be issued else it is waived and the Bill presented without one. The Rule introduced at the beginning of the Tenth Parliament was envisaged to cure the difficulty Private Members go through to present their Bills for first reading.
Niwagaba says that when the 60 days elapse, he is to engage Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and have him present the Bill without any further delay.
Some of the key Constitutional Amendments proposed by Niwagaba include reinstating presidential term limits, removal of the Prime Minister position, removal of the representation of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) representatives from parliament, and restrict the number of Cabinet Ministers and other Ministers to 21 respectively, increasing the number of members of the Electoral Commission (EC) from 7 to 9 and others.
However, Gabriel Ajedra the State Minister for Finance-General Duties says that his Ministry is undertaking all procedures that Bills go through before issuance of the Certificate.
“When a Bill comes like that, it should be analysed in terms of what it will cost government and naturally we have to work with the Justice Ministry and the First Parliamentary Counsel to find out what will be the legal implications and what would be the cost before we issue Certificate of Financial Implications,” said Ajedra.
He added that they cannot just issue a Certificate because somebody has presented a Bill.
“Unless someone says the Bill is budget neutral then we have no problem to issue a Certificate but the fact of the matter is that there is going to be a cost somehow based on some of the information that I have,” he added.
Ajedra said that the Finance Ministry has to make sure that money is available before they issue a certificate of Financial Implications for the Bill. He said that they are still waiting for a response from the Attorney General on the matter.
While granting Niwagaba leave to present his Bill, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah appealed to government departments to grant him assistance to facilitate the Bill.