As Ugandans continue to grapple with the effects of coronavirus, a controversial decision by parliament to create 47 new constituencies sent a different message. Many Ugandans are asking themselves whether a crippling economy at the moment needs such new expenditure waves.
This decision brings the number of MPS to 497 in the next parliament. This means more tax payers’ money will flow to the August House. The growing size of parliament is surely going to affect the quality of debate and management. I subscribe to the school of thoughts, which believes in medium numbers to oversee national matters.
These new constituencies have been created one month after the financial year 2020/2021 came into operationalization, this means they were not catered for in the National budget. This means Ministry of finance will have to provide funds for running these new administration units, bank rolling salaries and allowances for the new MPs, let alone purchase of vehicles for each of the new 72 MPs in the next parliament from I don’t know where, but most likely government is going to borrow! Sooner or later we will be seeing supplementary budgets or loan requests tabled in Parliament for approval to cater for these new administrative units. More and more loans, more debt burden for the taxpayers at the end of the day.
The philosophy of “bringing services closer to the people” through creation of new cities and constituencies remains debatable. A number of new districts do not have the required structure, labour and suffer from budgetary funding gaps. This poses a risk of having a repeated cycle of unfinished projects and plans, which could have an adverse effect on the quality of social service delivery.
There is need for government to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the macroeconomic effect of creating new constituencies and cities vis-a-vis achieving national development objectives. A cost-benefit analysis is required so that the populace will understand the role of these new constituencies and cities in the country’s development as well to ensure that tax payers’ resources are put to the best use.