KAMPALA-President Yoweri Museveni has returned the Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill, 2022 to Parliament for reconsideration.
The bill that was passed by Parliament on 03 May 2022, seeks to consolidate and reform the law related to the management of fisheries and fisheries products and aquaculture.
However, although it was sent for assent, during plenary on Wednesday, September 7, 2022, Speaker Anita Among communicated that the President had returned the bill for reconsideration.
Among read the President’s letter dated 18, August 2022, where the President raised concerns that the bill domiciles the surveillance unit organisation command, control and training under the Uganda Police force (UPDF) and yet it should be under the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) and the UPF.
“The rationale is that given the need for continuous surveillance and sophisticated ways employed by people involved in illegal fishing, the support for both UPDF and the Uganda Police force are required,” the letter read.
The President also said that the bill does not adequately define a licensing officer.
The President says that defining a licensing officer as a Chief Fisheries Officer, or District Fisheries Officer, will cause confusion and can lead to malpractice.
The Speaker whilst forwarding the bill to the Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries for reconsideration urged the members to restrict themselves on the grounds that have been raised by the President.
The committee was given a week to reconsider the bill.
Commenting on the issue of returned bills, the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga, said that Parliament spends a lot of time processing bills, and when these bills are returned, especially government bills, that means the line ministers did not do their jobs and this is an indictment on the front bench.
“I would like to invite the front bench to rise to the occasion so that we do not do this work over and over. We need to get the Executive to do its work,” he said.
Hon. David Bahati, the State Minister of Tourism, Trade, Industry (Trade) defended ministers for doing their work. However, sometimes changes are made by Parliament and not necessarily the front bench.
The Minister for Information, Communications Technology and National Guidance, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, said that the President played his role by deferring to assent, with reasons.