The Ugandan Parliament has been adjourned for a two-week period, as announced by Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa. The purpose of this recess is to allow oversight committees to address a mounting backlog of tasks in preparation for the upcoming budgeting process.
This decision marks a reversal of a directive issued by Tayebwa on August 23 of the same year, which temporarily banned committees from conducting oversight activities while the house was in session. The earlier directive aimed to address issues of absenteeism and quorum challenges that threatened the passage of the Anti-Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act 2023.
The change in approach came in response to concerns raised by committee chairpersons who found themselves in a difficult position. Tayebwa clarified that the break was not just for lawmakers to return to their constituencies but for all members to conduct fieldwork, citing the numerous requests received for committee fieldwork during plenary sessions.
Tayebwa explained that during the recess, committee chairpersons would lead the efforts, and upon their return, they would present their findings, allowing for discussions on how these findings could impact the budgeting process.
The focus during this period will include assessing the implementation of the ongoing 2023/24 financial year budget and the release of funds, with an emphasis on ensuring the allocated funds produce tangible results.
Parliament comprises fourteen standing committees with a fixed term of two and a half years, including the Public Accounts Committees (Central Government), Government Assurance and Implementation, and Human Rights Committee, each consisting of 30 members. In addition, there are fifteen sectoral committees, comprised of 30 members, selected at the beginning of each session, which cover areas such as Education and Sports, Physical Infrastructure, and Health.
This decision coincides with MPs expressing their concerns over the delayed release of a 1 billion shilling road fund grant intended for each of the 135 districts at the beginning of the current fiscal year. This delay has had a significant impact on various sectors, including roads.
During a parliamentary session on October 31, Bukanga North MP Nathan Byanyima criticized the finance ministry for withholding critical funds needed for various projects, including roads, which rely on the one-billion-shilling grant to address infrastructure challenges.
Finance state minister Henry Musasizi partially attributed the scarcity of funds to actions taken by Parliament itself. He highlighted that Parliament had diverted 60 billion shillings from the road fund budget during the appropriation process, affecting releases to the Uganda Road Fund. He sought the support of members for future budget proposals.
The decision to adjourn for two weeks aims to address these concerns and facilitate the efficient execution of oversight responsibilities within Parliament.