KAMPALA – On Thursday, May 21, Igara East MP Michael Mawanda moved a private Member’s Bill that seeks to amend the Constitution and reduce the powers of the Governor Bank of Uganda.
Dubbed ‘The Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2020’ the Bill wants the Governor and Deputy Governor to cease heading the BoU Board of Directors as chairperson and Vice Chairperson, respectively. Under the current law, Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile has been the BoU Board Chairperson automatically by his appointment as provided for under Article 161 (4).
Instead Mr Mawanda proposes the Governor to remain a member of the BoU board. He suggests that President should appoint the Chairperson of the Board from among the members.
The Bill proposes that the functions of the Governor are being responsible for monetary policy; incurring expenditures for the Bank within approved budget by board and Parliament; organising and managing the bank; causing proper accounts to be kept of all transactions entered into by the bank; ensuring safe custody of all the assets of the bank and any valuables entrusted to the bank; and, ensuring proper discharge of duties of the staff and other employees of the bank.
The Bill was referred to the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for further scrutiny before it is presented in the House for debate within 45 days.
The drafting of the Bill comes on the backdrop of 2019 recommendations by a Committee set up by President Museveni to investigate the recruitment process at the Bank of Uganda. The committee recommended a raft of changes, including “an urgent and comprehensive review” of the laws governing the Central Bank as well as trimming the Governor’s powers.
The committee, which was set up by the President after Mr Mutebile’s February 2019 controversial staff appointments, indicated that some of the laws which the Governor based on to make the sweeping staff changes must be amended as they are outdated and inconsistent with the Constitution.
The report also recommends the separation of position of Governor from that of Chairperson of Board, noting that when Mr Mutebile made the February 7 staff changes, he based himself on the fact that he is the governor and at the same time the board chairman.
“The Committee recommends the possible splitting or separation of the functions of the Governor and the Chairperson of the Board especially with regard to administrative matters. Corporate Governance best practice normally requires that the two positions are separate as the Chief Executive Officer is normally supervised by and is therefore answerable to the Board. In the instant case most of the problems caused as a result of the Governor’s decision could have been avoided if the two roles were separate with no opportunity for the Governor to function as both Board and Chief Executive Officer,” the report stated.