Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa has called for radical reforms in Parliament and asked government to stop creating new constituencies saying they have become a burden to taxpayers.
Addressing a Cabinet retreat on Wednesday, Ms Nankabirwa warned that the House is becoming “a laughing stock” in the eyes of the public.
“We have to put a limit on the size of Parliament. If we do not control the enlargement of Parliament, we will be digging one hole to feel another,” Ms Nankabirwa said while delivering the Legislature Sector performance responses.
The size of Parliament has increased from 378 in the 9th Parliament to 462 and is expected to grow when the new districts become operational this financial year. The districts and constituencies were approved in 9th Parliament.
“As somebody in charge of whipping [NRM] MPs, I see a big problem…This is a problem that the government needs to think about because as the number continues to be big, you may not recognise everybody and hence no value for money,” Ms Nankabirwa said.
Ms Nankabirwa added that in 2017/2018 Financial Year they enacted 11 laws against the planned 20 and considered 56 motions- more than the 50 that were planned.
On the performance of MPs, the chief whip said lawmakers use the Prime Minister’s Question Time and Matters of National Importance slots in the House to “cover up for their performance” because the constituents watch the proceedings live on television.
She said the MPs use newspaper reports to generate matters of national importance and questions to the prime minister.
Ms Nankabirwa also reported that on account of a bloated Parliament, some MPs are not comfortable sharing office space.
This according to Government chief whip has rendered some of them inactive since they are sometimes “locked out” by colleagues.
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda welcomed Ms Nankabirwa’s call for reforms but did not commit on what Cabinet would do.
“Your call for government to take Parliament very serious is very welcome,” he said
Opposition speaks out
The Opposition leadership in Parliament also welcomed Ms Nankabirwa’s suggestion of limiting the number of legislators, saying it is time government reviews its own stake on creation of new administrative units.
Mr Harold Tony Muhindo, the deputy Opposition chief whip, said since government is in the process of merging agencies and closing others, there is also need to stop the creation of new districts and constituencies.
“For long we have been questioning the ever increasing cost of administration in the country. We have told government that increasing the number of MPs only affects the performance of Parliament [as well as service delivery] and if, it is Nankabirwa who is bringing this, then Cabinet must take quick action,” Mr Muhindo said.