KAMPALA – Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has promised to reverse the decision by Parliament’s Contracts Committee to award a contract to MTN Uganda to pay Over the Top Tax (OTT) for MPs.
On Wednesday, it emerged that Parliament plans to spend Shs198m to pay internet data and social media tax for the 458 MPs in 10th Parliament. MTN, in a restricted domestic bid, won the tender with a contract expected to be signed before the end of May.
Addressing journalists at Parliament on Thursday, Ms. Kadaga said such contract cannot pass because MPs should be in a position to pay for the services as part of their legislative duties.
“I do not support the idea of taxpayers footing the bill of OTT tax for Members of Parliament. I would like to reiterate that I am opposed to this arrangement. And if there is any such agreement, it will be looked at it again and corrected. We as MPs should be able to pay our OTT,” she said.
Ms. Kadaga said that the widely reported move was by Parliaments Contracts Committee and not the Commission which she heads.
“I am glad you are saying it is Contracts Committee. I haven’t seen the agreement but I don’t believe that the public should pay OTT for MPs. I don’t support it,” Ms. Kadaga said.
She added: “I don’t agree with that decision and I am going to investigate who took that decision and if there is a contract, we will have to scrutinize it because I don’t believe taxpayers should pay MPs’ taxes, that is our duty because we are carrying out our duties.”
Ms. Kadaga also urged journalists covering parliament to harmonize their relationship with the legislative body.
She announced that there are other measures parliament is going to take regarding their coverage after discovering that Parliament doesn’t have its own media room to monitor what’s being said about the institution.
She said: “Sometimes we expect your editors to call us and say there is this story that is coming but you just wake up and something is in the press in other countries, there is a better relationship, it isn’t just of surprise. I hope we can work along those lines.”
The Speaker also promised to have a motion tabled before the floor of Parliament regarding Police’s treatment of suspects during arrest arguing that ignoring the Force’s actions puts other groups at risk of suffering the same fate.