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House suspends rules, approves amendments to administration of Parliament Act

Deputy Speaker Among guiding the House. PHOTO UGANDA PARLIAMENT MEDIA

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament has approved the Administration of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2021 paving the way for the Deputy Speaker Anitah Among to join the Parliamentary Commission. The bill also reverses the autonomy of the Institute of Parliamentary Studies recently named after the former Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga.

During plenary on Tuesday afternoon Chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Anita Among some legislators took to the floor and proposed immediate consideration of the Bill. They proposed a suspension of some of the rules that require the proposed piece of legislation to first go before a Committee of Parliament for 45 days.

Tabled by Kilak North MP, Anthony Akol, the bill sought to include the Deputy Speaker on the Parliamentary Commission, mandate the Parliamentary Commission to train MPs, staff of parliament and local government councils, align the Act with the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority Act, 2003 and repeal the Institute of Parliamentary Studies Act, 2020.

Section 2 (2) of the current Administration of Parliament Act excludes the Deputy Speaker from the parliamentary commission. In his presentation, Akol said the exclusion of the Deputy speaker is erroneous in light of Article 82 of the Constitution and hinders the Commission from effectively carrying out its mandate, especially where the Speaker is indisposed to attend and preside over meetings.

“In order to streamline the operations of the Parliamentary Commission, the Deputy Speaker should be expressly included as a Member of the Parliamentary Commission. The Bill also seeks to reduce the expenditure of the Commission in order to comply with Government policy of rationalizing Agencies by empowering the Commission to take over the functions currently performed by the Institute of Parliamentary Studies,” said Akol.

The legislators also noted that Section 23 of the current Act that mandates the Parliamentary Commission to establish a tender Board to control and regulate the purchase and disposal of property and supply of works and services for parliament is redundant given that the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority Act, 2003 applies to and regulates purchase and disposal of property undertaken by the Commission.

After tabling the Bill for its first reading, Sarah Opendi, the Tororo Woman MP moved a motion without notice to suspend rule 129 under the Parliament Rules of Procedure, saying the Bill tabled is straightforward.

She said that the Bill was important since the Deputy Speaker can face legal challenges if she presides over Commission meetings and takes decisions in the absence of the Speaker.

Opendi also said that there was no harm in having the Parliamentary Commission take over the role of training MPs and staff. The legislators unanimously approved the motion paving way for the second of the bill by Akol Anthony.

Fox Odoi, the West Budama North MP also took to the floor and moved another motion seeking to suspend rule 130 (2) (5) that provides for the Bill to be committed on a specific date to the Committee of the Whole House.  Among clarified that the rule is among those that can be suspended and she posed a question, which was approved by the MPs.

The Shadow Attorney General, Wilfred Niwagaba then moved another motion calling for the suspension of debate and the question be posed for the second reading of the Bill. This was approved and the Bill moved to the Committee of the Whole House stage where the proposed amendments were approved.

The Bill now awaits assent by President Yoweri Museveni.



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