PARLIAMENT – Members of Parliament on Tuesday blocked the Ministry of Finance from tabling a motion for a resolution of Parliament to authorise government to borrow up to $76.95m equivalent to Shs28b from the African Development Bank to support the Agriculture Value Chain Development Project (AVCP).
All was well when David Bahati, State Minister for Planning took to the floor of Parliament to table the motion, however, hell broke loose when Okoth Othieno, MP West Budama County North, raised a procedural issue, wondering if Parliament is in order to receive the motion, yet Speaker Rebecca Kadaga had ordered Finance minister Matia Kasaija to apologise over his statements on social media and mobile money taxes.
Last week, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga asked Kasaija to apologise to Parliament over feigning ignorance about the controversial 1% tax on all mobile money transactions.
Kadaga’s remarks followed concerns raised by James Kakooza (Bugabula County), who wondered why Kasaija could deny knowledge on how Parliament passed the controversial tax, saying Cabinet had agreed on 0.5%.
Kakooza was quoted last week saying: “The Minister said he didn’t know about the tax Bill that was brought to the House. The whole public went on rampage to abuse MPs and yet the Minister of Finance is the one who brought the Bill. The Minister must explain whether we come here waste time to support his position or we take it for granted that they aren’t in charge. So the whole public is saying Parliament is hopeless.”
Kadaga then threatened not to process any business from the Ministry of Finance until Kasaija makes a public withdraw of his statement as well as apologise to Parliament.
“The Minister will come here and apologise. If he doesn’t apologise, we shall not handle any work of the Ministry of Finance, because you can’t make Parliament a scapegoat. We want an apology from the Minister of Finance and public withdrawal of that statement,” a furious Kadaga said.
Backed with that earlier statement, Othieno asked Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah if it was procedurally right to receive the motion without Kasaija apologizing to Parliament.
“We have a directive from the presiding officer then, who directed that this House shall not handle any business from the Ministry of Finance until the ministrr comes here to apologise to the House. The Minister hasn’t come here to make a statement or apology and the directive of the presiding officer still stands. The Minister was making statements, undermining the authority of the Speaker,” Othieno said.
Deputy Speaker was forced to adjourn the plenary sitting to allow the presiding officers to handle the matter.