Cissy Kagaba, the Executive Director, Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda has asked the public to shun MPS who will accept the proposed armoured vehicles for their security.
She said this Tuesday morning while addressing reporters at the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda offices in Ntinda. Kagaba said that the Presidential directive to the Ministry of Finance to procure armoured vehicles for MPS is absurd and if implemented will constitute blatant misuse of tax payers’ money.
“This is a continuation of impunity and gratuitous expenditure that has become of our legislature,” Kagaba said.
The financial implication of the procurement of 456 cars as per the current number of MPs will cost not less than USD 500 million for each vehicle that will extend to a total of Shs 228 billion.
Besides the procurement of the said cars, more cost will be needed to settle out allowances of drivers, servicing and mileage allowance, a move that will put more strain on the already beleaguered economy.
According to Kagaba, the Ugandan tax payers are already burdened by the fat allowances for MPs including; basic pay, mileage, constituency facilitation, sitting allowance, social security benefits, medical insurance, free iPads, travel allowances and monthly gratuity payment.
“All this has compounded into increased taxation for the Ugandan taxpayer, in fact Ugandans are becoming increasingly overtaxed to fund a lavish lifestyle for MPs, yet the same MPs Ironically, exempted their allowances from being taxed,” she said.
Kagaba emphasized that, procuring the armoured vehicles and assigning sharpshooters to MPs is not only discriminatory in nature, but will not solve the security problem in the country citing the killing of over 40 women in the recent times with no trace of suspects or production of reports of what could have actually happened.
“Should all women be given armoured cars and sharpshooters since they are the most vulnerable?” Kagaba asked adding that many Ugandans continue to die in the hands of iron bar hit men, panga welding squads and armed robbers.
This should have been a prerequisite on the site of government to protect its nationals, she noted.
“The President should address the security problem more holistically than issuing implausible directives. Why not invest instead in some professional and competent police to protect all Ugandan instead of only MPs that are already privileged at the expense of the tax payers?”
The anti-corruption campaigner believes that the nature of the Presidential directive inhibits institutional growth, with no clear benchmarks on who determines what MPs are entitled to.
“Directives as these will continuously undermine and weaken institutions,” she emphasized.
It’s against this background that Kagaba has called on the President to withdraw this directive since its discriminatory in nature against all other Ugandans.
Kagaba also urged the MPS not to take on this offer but rather allow the money to be channeled to help improve on the quality of service delivery in the social sectors like health, education and agriculture that will rather benefit the majority of the poor populace.
She equally asked citizens to as well shun and reject MPS who accept to take these armoured vehicles.
The President’s directive followed a closed door meeting on June 20 held between the President and Members of Parliament to discuss the state of security in Uganda. The MPs told the President that they faced a number of security threats. Their colleague, Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga had been murdered on his way home in Kawanda.
President Museveni subsequently wrote to Finance Minister Kasaija directing for purchase of four-wheel drives to carry military sharp shooters guarding the MPs.
The President stated in the letter that individualized security was a wastage of resources – financial and manpower. He directed that as soon as the security systems he laid out to the country are implemented, the pick-ups are taken away from the MPs to form part of the fleet of the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF).