PARLIAMENT: The Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Anitah Annet Among on Wednesday afternoon prematurely adjourned the House till Thursday after none of the 82 Ministers showed up during Plenary sitting.
While adjourning the house, the speaker said she will have to meet the executive over this matter
“If this house is only meant for MPs, then let us be told that it is meant for MPs, if we are supposed to have ministers that represent the Executives, then we should have Ministers on this front bench. But we can’t come here as MPs, waste our time, talk nobody is to respond and they are paid highly. We have 83Ministers. And for that reason therefore, I should first meet the Executive on this matter, let us adjourn the House until this issue is resolved,” she said.
According to the day’s order paper among other businesses, the house was supposed to get government assurances to stabilise fuel prices in the country, of which the report was also supposed to be presented by the minister.
Parliament was also expected to receive a report from Public Accounts Committee on the report of the auditor general on national/regional referral hospitals and other specialized health votes for the year ended 30thJune 2022.
“As you see, this is one of the abandoned houses and we are wondering whether we still have Ministers! How do we handle the house, MPs have issues, how do we handle the house without Ministers, how? I am not sure we are going to continue like this, I think I need to talk to the Executive, we are going to talk to the Executive on this matter,” Among added
Last week, Speaker Anita Among put the Government to task over the escalating fuel prices but according to the statement from the Minister of State for Energy Hon. Sidronius Okaasai presented on Tuesday, government had proposed a non-interference approach on commodity prices.
“Uganda operates a liberalised downstream petroleum market, where pump prices are determined by the forces of demand and supply as guided by the Petroleum Supply Act of 2003 and Petroleum Supply General Regulations (2009) with amendments of 2012 and 2018,” said Okaasai during plenary on Tuesday, 05 September 2023.
Global factors beyond Uganda’s making, he said, are behind the spike, and that there is not much his ministry can do, rattling MPs.
The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, who chaired the sitting, asked the Government to develop a tangible plan to scout around the hikes in prices, instead of folding hands and allowing market forces to determine what becomes of Ugandans.
“The fuel prices have gone up; what is the Government’s immediate, medium and long term plan to address the escalating prices?” she said.
On several occasions, the Speaker Anitah Among and the Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa have always has expressed dissatisfaction over the absence of ministers from plenary sessions.
Tayebwa who presided over the plenary sitting on Wednesday, 05 April 2023 called it a “shame” for ministers whose items appeared on the Order Paper to fail to show up.
He indicated that there might be a need to engage the appointing authority over the issue of absent ministers which has become a growing concern in Parliament.
Tayebwa said the House could explore the possibility of referring the matter of absentee ministers to the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline. He tasked the Government Chief Whip, Hon. Hamson Obua with the responsibility of whipping them.