Parliament Buys over 30 New Cars Worth UGX 16 Billion

2583 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
A story from an investigation at parliament of new cars bought by the commission for a conference due to take place in March/April next year.

The ninth parliament has again pumped more billions of shillings in buying brand new executive vehicles, for use during a global conference that will take place early 2012 in Uganda.

A reliable source at parliament who asked not to be named said on Friday  that about 16 billion shillings was budgeted in 2010, to buy new cars for the new parliament. The new double cabin Isuzu D-Max, have already been delievered and are parked at Baumann House.

Officials at parliament are still holding onto the information with Helen Kawesa, the parliament spokesperson, indicating that the matter is still sensitive. She referred reporters  to the Parliament's procurement office, which in turn also referred reporters to the Clerk to parliament, Aeneas Tandekwire. The clerk to parliament was not in office the whole of Friday morning.

Emmanuel Dombo, a commissioner who chairs meetings in the absence of the speaker, instead referred reporters  to another director of parliament, whose office was also closed at the time of visit.

Dombo confirmed the purchase of  more than 30 new cars, but said he does not know how much was budgeted for their purchase, because as commissioners their work only stops at policy decisions and not budgeting details.

Kawesa and Chris Baryomunsi, another commissioner, have also confirmed that the vehicles were bought to facilitate the Inter Parliamentary Union – IPU, a meeting that brings together Speakers and MPs from over 150 countries with parliaments in the world, and is held on a rotational basis.

None of the officials was by Friday evening, willing to divulge the details of how much money has exactly been pumped in to buy the new cars. Dombo promised to get more information by next week.

Uganda Radio Network on Thursday saw and counted over 15 new cars, Isuzu D-Max, parked at the Baumann House parking yard, away from the usual camera lenses at the main parliamentary parking area. The parked cars have already been fully registered with red government number plates of parliament.

The purchase will surely raise more questions, coming just a month after the house spent a billion shillings on buying just two cars, executive S-500 Mercedes Benzes, for the new speaker and her deputy.

But it also raises more questions as to why parliament, a government arm, should spend so much money on buying new cars for a one-week conference, when the BMWs bought and retained during CHOGM are still in good condition to use for such conferences.

Helen Kawesa, when challenged to explain what would be done with the new cars after the conference said that parliamentary committee chairpersons will use them for parliamentary work. Chairpersons of committees as members of parliament are entitled to the free 129 million shillings for cars given to each MP by the parliamentary commission at the time of entering parliament.

Sources within parliament have also told Uganda Radio Network, that more new cars including Station wagons and mini buses, are also on the way for the same IPU conference.

An internet search of the vehicle model, Isuzu D-Max, has revealed that a brand new one on the open market of a recent model 2010 goes for between 100 and 110 million shillings each, before taxes, at the current dollar to shilling exchange rate of 2,650 shillings.

# # #