The new leadership of Parliament’s Committee on Government Assurances and Implementation is mooting a plan to have government pledges captured in the financial year 2024/2025 sectoral budgets.
The Committee Chairperson, Hon. Abed Bwanika (and his Deputy, Hon. Joyce Bagala Ntwatwa (made the revelation while receiving office from the out-going Chairperson, Hon. Betty Nambooze on Thursday, 25 January 2024.
The handover process is a result of different changes made by the leading Opposition party in Parliament, the National Unity Platform (NUP) and eventually adopted by the House.
“We are in a budget process and so, one of our first mandates is to provide a list of government assurances to sectoral committees so that they find space in the budget of financial year 2024/2025. This is one of our first task so that the sectoral committees are informed and brought on board,” said Bwanika.
He noted that the accountability committee is to immediately go through the catalogue of all government assurances made to the public and ensure that they execute their mandate.
The new committee leadership also revealed that they are going to review reports by the previous team which are in progress so that they are completed and find space on the Floor of Parliament.
“We are also aware that the Third National Development Plan is supposed to be ending in financial year 2024/2025…we will intimate to government to ensure that new promises and assurances are included as they think about the next NDP phase,” Bwanika added.
In her remarks, Bagala, formerly serving as Shadow Minister of Information and Anti-Corruption pledged to execute the new responsibility diligently.
“I pledge to the public that we will do this work diligently and we hope that the public will get something out of it. The entire public may not actually know what the Government Assurances Committee of Parliament is about and we hope that after two and half years, the public will be more acquainted with the work of the committee,” she said.
The new committee leadership received a handover report from Hon. Nambooze who noted that during her two-and-a-half-year tenure, the committee presented one report on the Floor of Parliament and that several others are still being processed.
Nambooze pointed out funding challenges saying that these constrained them from undertaking a number of tasks which include oversight visits and induction.
“In situations where donors pull out like it has been in the last two and a half years, we continued to work without staff. Even young people who turn up as volunteers, Parliament cannot afford paying them the smallest thing like lunch. The few people who are deployed here by Parliament are overworked,” she added.
This state of affairs, she said has degraded her committee to second fiddle, unfortunately.
“We must agree that the Committee on Government Assurances and Implementation is taken as if it’s a second class committee of some sorts. Priority has always been given to other accountability committees at the expense of this committee,” Nambooze observed.
“Our budget for foreign travel has not been utilized fully. There so many benchmarking trips that the committee was supposed to undertake but request for funds has always been met with excuses,” she added.
The new committee chairperson promised to follow up on these issues but pledged not to give excuses.
"Our mandate is very clear...to hold the government accountable politically. We are going to make sure that the government follows through every promise that is made to the people of Uganda. We must hold them accountable and ensure that every promise is implemented or if they so wish...it is withdrawn," said Bwanika.
The Committee on Government Assurances and Implementation is one of the four Opposition led accountability committees established under Article 90 of the Constitution and Rule 156 of the Parliament Rules of Procedure.
The committee mandate is outlined under Rule 179 and Rule 180 and it is to record and scrutinize promises and undertakings given by the minister, prime minister, President and Vice President in the House from time to time.
The committee is to also monitor and evaluate the fulfillment of the government assurances, and exercise such other functions as may be allocated to the committee by the Speaker from time to time.