The speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga has rebuked NGOs that use partnerships with Parliament to justify outrageous expenditure of donor funds.
The speaker criticism came as she officiated at the launch of a new handbook for financial accountability committees of parliament on Tuesday morning August 14.
Kadaga has now directed that any programmes at Parliament supported by donors should be designed jointly by both parties and conform to the strategic plan of the House.
The speaker’s remarks followed a candid revelation by the Aswa county MP Reagan Okumu who noted that some donors who want to work with Parliament in order to strengthen accountability and democracy do not provide value for money spent.
She expressed frustration at some organisations that use up almost 70% of their funding on administrative costs including salaries.
“Some of these NGO people want jobs they want to secure their jobs, so how can 70% of funding for Parliament go somewhere else, how are you supporting Parliament?” She queried.
Kadaga revealed that she has instructed the deputy clerk to parliament in charge of corporate planning services, Disan Okumu to ensure that all organisations willing to work with Parliament sign memoranda of understanding.
Okumu, who is also the chairperson of the Local Government Public Accounts Committee, expressed satisfaction that most of the development partners have accepted to sign such memoranda in order to streamline methods of work.
He, however, regretted that some have remained inflexible.
He singled out an organisation called Strengthening Uganda’s Anti-corruption Response (SUGAR) as one whose methods cannot help Parliament achieve its objectives.
“I want to request you development partners to streamline your activities through the office of Mr Okumu and that is what we advised SUGAR, sign a memorandum of understanding with Parliament.”
The handbook which is expected to guide House accountability committees is the culmination of a two years effort by Parliament’s Corporate Planning and Strategy department in coordination with the Center for Policy Analysis and the Governance, Accountability, Participation and Performance Programme.
It is a response to process improvement recommendations made in the 2014 assessment of accountability committees. Some of the issues identified are slow consideration of the Auditor General’s reports and production of reports by accountability committees.
The manual aims to improve the time reports take to be presented, debated and adopted as well as other administrative and procedural challenges.
A few of the ways in which the handbook intends to improve performance is through providing guidance to members and staff on prioritising investigations and conducting effective hearings, as well as expanding knowledge in evolving areas such as value for money oversight.
The speaker also berated the ministry of finance for slow presentation of treasury memoranda, noting that the latest memorandum presented in March this year is detailing action taken on parliamentary recommendations from accounts ended June 30, 2013.
A Treasury Memorandum is the document issued by the Finance Minister in response to a report by the Public Accounts Committees of parliament when they have finished reviewing an Auditor General’s Report. It details how any breaches outlined will be corrected.
Kadaga notes the current document from the ministry followed several reminders and numerous appeals for government to produce the treasury memoranda.
“But of course the committee is going to look at them, the House will also look at them but we have a gap of so many years.” She exclaimed.
She expressed confidence in the accountability committees to complete all pending business by the end of the year and get ready for the new Auditor General’s report in December.