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Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Parliament met at 2.35 p.m. in Parliament House, Kampala.
(The Deputy Speaker, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, in the Chair.)
The House was called to order.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, I welcome you to todays meeting. First, I will amend the Order Paper to make room for the Minister for Regional Cooperation to make a statement; so he will come immediately after the Minister for Energy.
I have a few other communications. One, we have a number of guests in the distinguished strangers gallery. We have, Ms Kimberly Smeldy, Senior Research Associate of the University of Cape Town. She is visiting Parliament as a USAID consultant and is on an evaluation mission.
We also have pupils and teachers of Apac Model Primary School. They have come to see how we conduct business here.
We also have a team of elders from two communities of our country. We have a delegation from the Sabiny community, a delegation from the Pokot community and a delegation from the REACH Programme; they are here to witness the moving of a motion which is important to their community. When we come to that stage, I will give you the details of their names.
But I also wanted to talk about an issue, which was raised here concerning questions for oral answer. I have received many complaints concerning questions and how they are processed and the Government Chief Whip did write to me indicating that they believe the faults are on the part of Parliament. I have consulted with the Clerk and I have noticed that Members may not be aware of the process through which questions go before they are reflected on the Order Paper.
So, I want to inform the members that there is established in the Clerks Office a question records book provided for under rule 35(7). It is kept by the Assistant Director in charge of the Table Office in room 408 of Parliament Building and this is the process the questions go through:
When a question is received, the approval of the Speaker is sought. If that approval is given, the question is sent to the minister with copies to the Leader of Government Business and the Permanent Secretary of the relevant ministry. A copy is also sent to the registry for record purposes.
In the letter, the minister is requested to answer the question within two weeks upon receipt of the question. The minister is further requested to file with the Clerk a copy of his/her response for record purposes, under rule 35(7)(d) of our Rules of Procedure. All this information is indicated in the question record book, which is open for Members inspections any time.
I have established that it is the ministers who have not been complying with the rules regarding questions. This has resulted in a backlog of questions. So I urge the ministers to take matters of question seriously and also ensure that questions appear on the Order Paper on schedule.
I now want to ask the Clerk to show you the question record book so that you know that what we have been talking about is for real. All the questions are recorded there, including when they are expected to be answered.
THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION (Prof. Morris Ogenga-Latigo): Thank you, Madam Speaker. You mentioned a procedure that I did not seem familiar with. I do not know whether I have not read my rules properly, but in submitting questions, you mentioned that the approval of the Speaker is required. Is that part of our procedure or not?
My understanding was that the Clerk would look at your question and help you in restructuring it if it is not clear enough.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, you may not know that sometimes Members ask questions first by writing a preamble of three pages and then they ask the question. Then you find the question is actually about four pages. So the Speakers Office is also the Clerks Office. That is the process through which we clear them and say, Cut this, remove this and so forth.
PROF. OGENGA-LATIGO: Madam Speaker, I do not what anybody from either side of the House to say that the Speaker sabotaged my question. Can we have more clarification of that? You said that the Office of the Speaker is also the Clerks office. But in this business, it is normally the Clerk that deals with the person concerned.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Leader of the Opposition, you do not know the problems we go through with Members questions. First of all, when the clerks try to guide them they insist that, This is my question and this is how I want it to be set. And the clerks usually are afraid to argue with them.
PROF. OGENGA-LATIGO: We have tried to help the process. From our side, for example, no Member should submit questions without consultations with the Oppositions Chief Whip or the Leader of the Opposition. They normally give you a draft of the question and you look through it, and you advise that it is okay for submission. It is not that I do not trust the Office of the Speaker, but I do not what somebody later to accuse the Office of the Speaker of sabotage.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: If you open that book, you will see a record of all the questions that have been asked. So you are free to inspect them. If you find something is missing, then you can ask me; but everything is there.
THE PRIME MINISTER AND LEADER OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS (Prof. Apolo Nsibambi): Madam Speaker, hon. Members of Parliament, my statement is being distributed. It is a short one but it is pregnant with a lot of thought. (Laughter)
Government was requested by Parliament to clarify on the status of Inspector-General of Government and the Deputy Inspector-General of Government, following the end of their contracts.
This is to inform hon. Members of Parliament that His Excellency the President has reappointed Mr Raphael Baku who was vetted by Parliament as Deputy Inspector-General of Government. He has also asked Mr Baku to take charge of the Inspectorate of Government.
In respect of Justice Mwondhas re-appointment as Inspector-General of Government, the issue has been referred to the Constitutional Court by interested parties.
The issue of contention is whether or not a person who have been serving as Inspector-General of Government and who is eligible for re-appointment requires vetting by Parliament.
Government is waiting for the interpretation of the Constitutional Court. The President was reminded to nominate for appointment a second Deputy Inspector-General of Government as provided by Section 3, clause 2(b) of the Inspector-General Of Government Act, 2002. Thank you.
MR ERIAS LUKWAGO (DP, Kampala Central, Kampala): Madam Speaker, I thank the Prime Minister for the statement he has made. But I would wish to seek clarification of salient issues.
One, the question of the matter being referred to the Constitutional Court by interested parties sounds a little bit vague. What does, interested parties mean? Does that include government, would it mean the former Inspector-General of Government; does it mean the Attorney-General? So we need to understand, and there are no particulars of the case here.
To make matters worse, the statement says, Government is awaiting the decision of the Constitutional Court on this matter. It clears some vacuum as far as the Inspectorate is concerned. Under the provisions of Article 223 of the Constitution, the Constitution talks of the Inspector-General of Government not Acting Inspector General of Government. The Constitution does not envisage any person in acting capacity to serve as Inspector-General of Government.
The position is clear, Raphael Bako was appointed as Deputy Inspector-General of Government and the Constitution provides for two deputies. So he is going to serve as such. So the question arising is: do we now have a vacuum  is there no substantive Inspector-General of Government?
Secondly, the particulars of this case  why peg the decision of the chief executive to a constitutional decision? I thought the chief executive would take a decision and whoever is not satisfied would take him to court!
Finally, has government now abandoned the advice of the Attorney-General on the matter?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, last week it was this House which asked government to explain what is going on in that office. The person who was approved by Parliament is the one in office. The one who was not approved is not in office. I do not know what the problem is now!
MR ODONGA OTTO (FDC, Aruu County, Pader): Madam Speaker, I wanted to direct my mind to my learned friend the Attorney-General, probably he would be of help. The Constitution is clear on what constitutes the Inspectorate of Government. It includes the Inspector-General of Government and any number of deputies. So, where we are, hon. Attorney-General, do we have a lacuna? Because we approved the Deputy Inspector-General of Government as Deputy Inspector-General of Government, how then does that person become the Inspector-General of Government?
I want the learned Attorney-General to advise this House because to me it seems that the Inspectorate of Government is not fully composed. And as Parliament, we have no one to meet. We cannot meet the acting Inspector-General of Government; there is no provision for that in the Constitution. So I really want the Attorney-General to make this clear. For me as a Member of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, when I am expecting to meet the Inspectorate of Government, I should not instead meet the acting Inspector-General of Government which is unconstitutional.
MR FELIX OKOT OGONG (NRM, Dokolo County, Dokolo): Thank you, Madam Speaker. I want to refer Members to the Constitution, Article 119(1) on the Attorney-General, which reads, There shall be an Attorney-General who shall be a Cabinet Minister appointed by the President with the approval of Parliament.
(2) The Attorney-General shall be the principal legal adviser of government.
The functions of the Attorney-General are clearly spelt out in the Constitution: his function is to give legal advice and services to government on any subject.
Last week the Attorney-General appeared in Parliament here and informed us in no uncertain terms that he had advised government and made his position clear on the appointment of the Inspector-General of Government and it seems government has blatantly rejected the advice of the Attorney-General.
The President appointed the Attorney-General with his own seal to be his legal advisor and now he has disowned his advice. So, do we still have an Attorney-General? That must be made clear; we are not going to respect the advice of the Attorney-General in Parliament because his advice is now just being take as mere advice.
I want also to request the Attorney-General, since his boss has given him a vote of no confidence, this is very clear. I think the best thing he can do is to resign. You cannot serve a system that does not respect your advice. We are going to rule by this Constitution, which is very clear. I want the Prime Minister to advise us on this whether we still have an Attorney-General and whether we can still rely on his advise. Thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, I did not read in the Prime Minsters statement any indication that the advice of the Attorney-General had been ignored. The person who was vetted by this House as advised by the Attorney-General is in office. The person who was not vetted is not in office. So, I do not know what your problem is.
On behalf of the Appointments Committee, I can inform you that we have advised that the office should be fully constituted and they have been operating without it. So we have taken charge of the situation.
MR KIGYAGI: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I would like to get guidance from you or the Attorney-General. Government has been taken to the Constitutional Court, but who is going to represent Government in the Constitutional Court?
MR OKECHO: Madam Speaker, it is provided that the Attorney-General advises the President, but does the President have to take all the advice that the Attorney-General gives him?
MR ABDU KATUNTU (FDC, Bugweri Country, Iganga): Thank you, Madam Speaker. It is quite unfortunate that this country is being treated to this melodrama for this long. In circumstances where you have constitutional commands; all authority in this country, from the President to this Parliament is bound by the advice of the Attorney-General; just bound. For the appointing authority to cast doubt on the advice of his principal legal advisor is extremely unfortunate. It amounts to a vote of no confidence in the Attorney-General.
We as an institution have been faced with a dilemma where we have received the advice of the Attorney-General, regardless of what opinion we had, we have been bound by the advice of the Attorney-General because we respect the rule of law, we respect the Constitution and we respect the Office of the Attorney-General.
The President is selectively getting advice from institutions that are by law supposed to advise him. It puts the person of the Attorney-General in a big dilemma; in fact I would not like to be in his shoes. If the President doubts the advice of the Attorney-General, can this House ever have faith in the opinion of the Attorney-General? We cannot continue being treated to this sort of drama. The President should know that he is bound by the law; he has no discretion in this matter; if he thinks the advice was wrong, he has one option, to tell the present Attorney-General that, I no longer have faith in your legal advice.
The Constitution provides for the Inspectorate of Government to be constituted by both the Inspector-General of Government and the deputy. If one of them is not there, you cannot talk about the Inspectorate of Government. And that is where I have a problem with the Attorney-General; how do you act on an institution which does not exist in the law? There is no inspectorate until both the Inspector-General of Government and the Deputy Inspector-General of Government are in place as envisaged by the Constitution.
Mr Raphael Bako is a substantive Deputy Inspector-General of Government; that is, assuming he has received the instrument of appointment. But from the media reports today, Mr Bako said he was on leave. So can we have this drama come to an end, Leader of Government Business? We have been praying since you told us to pray, two weeks ago. I am sure God is also getting impatient with our prayers. Now that we have been praying to God and the drama is still going on, what do we do? We continue praying?
This week or the next, you will find Mr Raphael Baku coming here as the acting Inspector-General of Government, and some of us are going to be uncomfortable with that. Not that we do not respect Mr Raphael Bako as Deputy Inspector-General of Government, but we are saying that there is a problem in the institution. Why do you cause controversies in situations where there shouldnt be any; why should we have controversies in this country were we should not be having the slightest controversy?
Why doesnt the President go ahead to appoint an Inspector General of Government, approved by Parliament and the country continues; what is the problem Prof. Nsibambi? Is the problem the person of Mrs Faith Mwondha? That is the problem; this country is stuck with her, the President is stuck with her, so the institution will not work because of her. Really, institutions should be beyond individuals. This culture of saying, If this individual is not there, the institution will collapse, if this person is not there, the country will collapse; we cannot tolerate this anymore as a country. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Now, hon. Members, I will ask the Attorney-General to respond. However, in the visitors gallery we have students of the Royal Rhodes University of Canada. They are here to observe the achievements of the government and the country in the Millennium Development Goals.
Can I ask the Attorney-General to respond? Tayagala? Ok, Prime Minister, can you answer?
THE PRIME MINISTER AND LEADER OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS (Prof. Apolo Nsibambi): Thank you, Madam Speaker. What are these parties? I happen to know for example Bob Joseph Nturwabakye, Legal Brains Trust Ltd v the Attorney-General and I want to lay it on the Table.
The second question was that the Acting IGG is not envisaged. Now, this is a matter for the Attorney-General to answer and it is the same question which hon. Otto raised.
There was the issue  because I do not want the Attorney-General to be embarrassed, the issue was, can the President negate the advice of the Attorney-General? This is possible; there may be circumstances where he may not take the advice of the Attorney-General. It is possible.
With regard to this matter, the President would like to know the advice (Interruption)
MR KATUNTU: Thank you, Madam Speaker and I would like to thank the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister for yielding the Floor. I am seeking clarification. We have cited the Constitution, which gives the mandate of the Attorney-General as the principal legal advisor to government; that means to the President and all institutions of government. May I know, under what circumstances the President may, to use your word, negate the advice of the Attorney-General under the Constitution?
PROF OGENGA-LATIGO: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I thank the Rt Hon. Leader of Government Business for ceding this opportunity. Just two small clarifications: when the Attorney-General was asked to explain last week the issue of the legal advice - he could give other political advice that the President can take or not take, the Attorney-General cited a Supreme Court ruling and he laid it on Table where government is bound by his advice and he emphasised that the ruling of the Supreme Court is the supreme law of this land until there is another ruling to the contrary.
Are you, in making what you said, considerate of that position? And would you then, after you have made that statement, allow the Attorney-General to help us because we were quite satisfied with the matter that was laid?
Secondly, Rt Hon. Prime Minister, you laid on the Table the case of somebody and Legal Brains Ltd going to court. We have no opportunity to read the content of their petition before court but have they petitioned court seeking order of restraint on the President not to process the appointment of the Attorney-General until the matter is heard?
PROF. NSIBAMBI: According to Article 119, the functions of the Attorney-General include giving legal advice. If you think that the President has violated the Constitution, you can take him to court. You are free to take him to court.
There was another question: do we have an Attorney-General? Yes, because the Attorney-General has not resigned so we have an Attorney-General. I ask the Attorney-General to answer other questions. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS/ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Prof. Khiddu Makubuya): Thank you, Madam Speaker. I was not here last week but my colleague, the Deputy Attorney-General, came to Parliament and indicated the legal position as we understood it in the Attorney-Generals Chamber. (Laughter) And we have not been given any reason to depart from that position.
I have only two points to clarify that there are two petitions and not one. The first petition is exactly what the Rt Hon. Prime Minister has mentioned: Constitutional Petition No.07 of 2009, Bob Joseph Nturwabakye and Legal Brains Trust Ltd. They are the petitioners and they are clearly petitioning against the Attorney-General of the Republic of Uganda. The first petitioner is a private person and the second one is a company.
Then we have constitutional petition No.10 of 2009. The petitioners are 22 and they are:
1.  Dhikusooka Majidu
2.  Sheila Kawamara Mishambi
3.  Talifuna Edward
4.  Musulo Musoke Charles
5.  Mbentyo Isa
6.  Waiswa Paul Isingoma
7.  Gladys Nyakajua
8.  Tuhumwire Dorothy Mbalule
9.  Babirye Mebrah
10.  Samanya Godfrey
11.  Zirabamuzaale Sunday
12.  Kakaire Ronald
13.  Haluna Ntuyo Tamuzadde
14.  Gabula Ezra
15.  Diogo Samuel
16.  Kakaire Lovisa
17.  Kalekwa Mary
18.  Musenze Daudi Isabirye
19.  Mutenza Ronald Bagole
20.  Dhikusooka Timothy
21.  Mukooba Christopher
22.  Achieng Robinah Kazahura
This petition is also against the Attorney-General of the Republic of Uganda.
The second thing is what is being raised. I think the sentence says, He has also asked Mr Bako to take charge of the Inspectorate of Government. And of course the argument is on the full constitution of the Inspectorate of Government. I was hearing of this issue for the first time. I would like to ask for time to analyse the issue so that I can be able to advice Parliament on this. Thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Okay. Next item!
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR LABOUR (Dr Emmanuel Otaala): Thank you very much, Madam Speaker and hon. Members. This is a statement in respect of the International Labour Day to be marked on 01 May 2009 -(Interjection)- we have delivered 400 copies to the Office of the Clerk and it is being availed to the Members.
MR ODONGA OTTO: Madam Speaker, with all due respect to hon. Dr Otaala and since Labour Day is a very important day for people like me, and in line with our Rules of Procedure, I would pray and seek procedural advice that we stay over his statement until we have the copies because our rules are very clear.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: But what is the import of the statement? Is it a policy or just information? This is just information.
DR OTAALA: Thank you, Madam Speaker, for your ruling. On the 1st of May every year, Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate the International Labour Day that has been set aside for the workers in the world.
This day dates back to the period between 1882 and 1884, when the Knights of labour from New York City in the USA propelled parades from sociologists who were at that time demanding for the recognition of Labour Day. The parades were violent and marked by loss of lives. Persistent labour unionists continued the agitation for improved working conditions to counter the bonding and poor working conditions that was being meted on the workers at that time.
In Uganda, the International Labour Day is gazetted as a public holiday and ceremonies are organised at national level as well as within local governments.
Hon. Members, this day is commemorated in recognition of the dignity of labour and the important contribution that labour makes to the socio-economic and political development of our country.
It is a day when government, employers, the workers and the unions, community groups, civil society organisations and the public reflect on the achievements and challenges of work and socio-economic development.
The importance of employment and labour are anchored in the national Constitution and espoused in the NRM Presidential Manifesto of 2006.
The NRM Government has been implementing economic reforms mainly at macro and central level aimed at achieving economic growth of at least 6.5 percent per year and placing emphasis on the private sector as the driver of economic growth and employment creation.
Madam Speaker and hon. Members, efforts to promote private investment under the Uganda Investment Authority have over the last decade created over 350,000 jobs. Government is also implementing a comprehensive programme on Prosperity-of-All commonly known as Bonna Bagaggawale within the objective of raising standards of living and incomes of households to a minimum of Shs 20 million per year. However, the challenges of employment creation, particularly good quality and sustainable incomes still remain formidable.
This year, the theme for the Labour Day celebrations is, Promoting local investment for increased employment creation. The theme has been chosen to emphasise the importance of promoting local investments to fight the rampant unemployment. Over 7 million people in Uganda are still unemployed and are earning less than US $1 per day. This poses a great challenge to our nation.
Hon. Members, the venue for this years national celebration is Soroti sports ground.
A synopsis on the day has been sent to all local governments to guide them on the commemoration of the day with activities reflecting the theme in their respective districts.
In order to prepare for the events to commemorate this day, the national organising committee has been constituted, chaired by my ministry. Soroti District has also constituted a district organising committee to oversee the preparations for that day within the district.
In this regard, all actors in various sectors, including the district political leadership, the media, the private sector, are expected to participate in the preparations to ensure that this years International Labour Day is memorable.
I, therefore, call upon you, the hon. Members, to show solidarity with the other workers of Uganda and join the rest to observe International Labour Day at Soroti sports ground, and also to support your constituencies to commemorate this important day.
Finally, the guest of honour at this occasion is expected to be His Excellency the President. I thank you. I say all this for God and my country.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: We are not supposed to debate this. I think let us just hear from the hosts. Yes; hon. Amuriat.
MR PATRICK AMURIAT (FDC, Kumi County, Kumi): Thank you very much, Madam Speaker and I wish to thank -
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Alaso is the host. Let us hear from hon. Alaso first.
MS ALICE ALASO (FDC, Woman Representative, Soroti): Thank you very much, Madam Speaker, I am honoured to be the host as you come to Soroti District and I want to thank the minister and government for choosing Soroti as the venue for this years celebration. So, to all of you, we say, you are most welcome to Soroti. You will enjoy a lot of fish; a lot of chicken; a lot of Atapa; we will make sure you are very comfortable when you come to Soroti. I am also being asked for Ajono. Ajono is the local brew and I know that it will be there anyway.
Madam Speaker, for us in Soroti it is such an honour indeed to host this function but I would like to point out a few things to the minister even as I tell all the workers of this country and indeed all of Soroti to turn up for this function.
For a long time we have asked government to provide for a minimum wage for working Ugandans and it is quite unpleasant to note that you still go to all these industries, where you say you have created 350,000 jobs, and you find Ugandans being seriously exploited; there are people who work for Shs 60,000 for a whole month and yet you work the whole day from 6 a.m. to probably 8 p.m.
I have a strong feeling that a lot of Ugandans are being exploited by these so-called investors and that applies to the security firms in this country where a bulk of our people earn only Shs 90,000 per month.
While we need investments, while we need these jobs, I think it is the duty of the Government of Uganda to protect Ugandans from being massively exploited and I would like to call on government to reconsider matters of the minimum wage for Ugandans if we are to benefit at all from the jobs that are being created.
Secondly, it is important that we reflect on the level of unemployment in this country. Most of our youth have become idle and sometimes even disorderly basically because they have no work to do. They have no jobs; there is no land for some of them and it has been very difficult for them to cope. So I pray that government considers some of these things: the creation jobs, the creation of a good working environment and the fixing of a minimum wage to help our people to feel worth it. There should be some bit of human dignity even as you work in these 350,000 jobs that are being created. Otherwise, welcome again to Soroti.
MR CHARLES EKEMU (FDC, Soroti Municipality, Soroti): Thank you very much. I am taking this opportunity to welcome all of you to Soroti where we are going to celebrate Labour Day. But of course, hon. Minister, I am already aware that Soroti is a suitable venue for this occasion. You are going to be welcomed by a drove of unemployed youth. They are going to be so many. So, you are really welcome and be prepared to be received. (Laughter)
MS BETI KAMYA (FDC, Lubaga Division North, Kampala): Thank you, Madam Speaker. I also wish to thank the minister for his statement and our hosts for giving us that welcome. We all look forward to being in Soroti on 01 May 2009.
I note this years theme: Promoting Local Investment. I would like to ask the minister what last years theme was; what the theme the year before was and what the theme the year before was. That is because we come here every year and celebrate anniversaries, each year with a different theme, without reflecting on the theme of the past year. It would be a good thing if we came here and reflected on the theme of the previous year because that gives us an opportunity - I expect that themes are supposed to give us the drive or the direction of where we want to go that year.
I think we have a problem in this country, of jumping from year to year, celebrating and not looking back. I would like to know from the minister how far we went in driving last years theme.
Secondly and lastly, traditionally in this country, we celebrate anniversaries, with a lot of fan fair, with match pasts and these days with party colours and harps and songs of patriotism. But in the 1960s - we have been told how long we have been celebrating Labour Day - but in the 60s - I am more interested in the days of Independence, when we were independent, 80 percent of our population we are told was engaged in agriculture, and that sector was contributing 80 percent to GDP.
In the 1990s, 80 percent was still stuck in agriculture and that sector contributing 40 per cent to GDP. Last year, according to the Minister of Finance 80 percent of our population was still stuck in agriculture and that sector contributed 21 percent of GDP. What are we celebrating?
To me, this means that either unemployment has gone down by 60 percent since 1960, or productivity has gone down by 60 percent. What are we celebrating? What are we commemorating? How are we moving to promotion of local investment without looking back at the themes that led to this downfall in the productivity and therefore economic advancement  80 percent of our population? What this means is that while 20 percent of our population at the rate of 8.9 percent, 80 percent of the population is actually going down. What are we celebrating? I thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, I did not expect the minister to be so lengthy in his explanation. I thought he was telling you about the date and the theme, but he went into areas, which are now causing a debate. Normally we do not really debate this kind of information. So, let me ask hon. Alisemera to ask a few questions, the Member for Youth, hon. Lumumba and then hon. Amuriat.
MS JANE ALISEMERA (NRM, Woman Representative, Bundibugyo): Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. Let me also thank the minister for giving us this statement. I would also like to be with the people of Soroti to say that really it is good for you to go and celebrate in Soroti and since some of these areas do not normally get such big celebrations or international days, it is also a gesture to the people of Soroti to have such visitors.
Hon. Minister as we celebrate the international Labour Day, the people of Bundibugyo are crying. They are crying for the loss of their dear ones, those who died during Ebola, the children of those health workers have dropped out of school. Imagine a doctors child not going to school and yet we are talking of patriotism! Who is more patriotic in this country than Rose Bulimpitsya the matron of Bundibugyo hospital? And we are talking of giving money to start patriotic activities, yet these children are dropping out of school! Do you think the people of Bundibugyo will appreciate you? Will they appreciate patriotic lessons when many of their children are suffering?
Hon. Minister, the people of Bundibugyo on the Labour Day, in fact Mrs Kule wants to match here and come and bring her children in front of Parliament, to show you that she is really disgusted and not happy with what is going on. I have been going to Ministry of Health, they tell me to go to Public Service; you go to Public Service, they say, Go to Ministry of Gender. Where are these children supposed to go; can we know, as we celebrate International Labour Day?
MR DENIS OBUA (NRM, Youth Representative, Northern): Thank you, Madam Speaker. I want to thank you and thank the minister for the statement. International Labour Day is a day on which as workers we should evaluate ourselves. It is a day that we as workers should celebrate the economic and social achievements. But I want to restrict my submission to the challenges that workers in Uganda are facing. No. 1 on the list is the challenge of enforcing labour laws that we have in this country.
Many have talked - even before I joined Parliament - about the question of the minimum wage for workers. I think we have reached a deadlock.  
Challenge No. 2, we do not have as a country the national employment policy that should guide us on the question of employment for our young graduates. That is also a challenge.
No. 3, the unemployment rate is still very high in this country and amongst young people who are graduating from higher institutions of learning. This is something we need to handle. If it means the question of reducing the retirement age, Parliament must do it.
There is the backlog of labour related cases in the Industrial Court. I am aware there are over 300 pending cases in the Industrial Court. The Industrial Court at the moment does not have a presiding judge and we are celebrating the International Labour Day. What are we celebrating? I thank you.
MRS KASULE LUMUMBA (NRM, Woman Representative, Bugiri): Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I have some few questions to the minister. One, he has made a statement, brief as it is to the nation but he knows very well that Members of Parliament are going out there to preside over as guests of honour but he has not given a statement - where do you expect these Members to get this statement from? Do you want them to have the same message? If it is the same, then where do you want them to access the information from?
Secondly, we are going to celebrate, he has talked of so many years of commemoration of the day. But as we talk now, do we have an employment policy in this country? He has talked of the theme being to boost local investment. He ought to have told us what government has done so far to boost local investment and what government is planning to do; because that should be the message we carry when we go down.
My colleague talked of retirement: the minister should have told us how the ministry has tried to simplify the issue of the retirement packages for the people and how is it accessible - issues of gratuity. These are the issues that are affecting the workers. So if it is so difficult for somebody even to access pension, what are we going to celebrate about, to make things difficult for those who are retiring?
We have the issue of  yesterday we had a demonstration which was flagged off by you. He has not talked of anything about the demands that the workers raised yesterday. Madam Speaker, we have issues of taxation in this country, the labourers are complaining, workers are complaining about over taxation. We recently passed the Local Service Tax, workers are complaining. What has that ministry done? The safety of workers is a big problem in this country. People lost lives the other day, what does the ministry say about it? We have the issue of the Industrial Court. How is government facilitating the Industrial Court? Thank you very much.
MR BRUNO PAJOBO (NRM, Workers Representative): Thank you, Madam Speaker. I understand that the minister said we are celebrating. We are not celebrating; we are mourning our people. That is the essence of the Labour Day celebrations. The workers really resisted the bad conditions of working during that period when the workers complained of working hours and went on strike. So many workers were killed and now we are mourning those people.
In Uganda, what do we celebrate? What do we celebrate really; economic gain? (Laughter) The issue is that in the 1960s, in other countries of our neighbour, on Labour Day they come and consolidate the workers by giving them a minimum wage announcement. For us what are we going to hear: political statements? Patriotism which we cannot practice because we are hungry? How can you talk about patriotism when people are hungry?
Therefore, the workers in this country really need to be looked at. People are proud that we are producing work for Ugandans. What type of work are you giving to Ugandans? How many Ugandans are employed in Uganda and how many industries really take Ugandans? Yesterday, I went to one place and found strong Swahili, which is not my Swahili. Where do we get those people and really if Uganda is to produce for Ugandans, how (Interruption)
MRS TUUNDE: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I thank the minister for his statement but I would like to say that we as workers in Uganda we are not really celebrating, we are commemorating the lives of those brothers who died in Chicago in the 18th Century; they died because they were fighting for their rights.
In the actual sense yesterday the International Labour Organisation marked 90 years and Uganda being a member country of ILO has to ratify several conventions as far as workers rights are concerned. It has also domesticated so many labour laws to fit in the decent work agenda but what we are seeing is the missing gap. There is a leak, much as we talk of decent work, in Uganda there is a lot missing.
When you look at the workers, there is a lot of sexual harassment; there is no employment policy; there is no minimum wage and there are a lot of things missing. When we talk of an employment policy and we are talking of the East African Community, all the other countries have employment policies but it is only Uganda, which does not have one in place. For the minimum wage, even other countries have minimum wage but for Uganda there is nothing. (Laughter)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is that the information?
MRS TUUNDE: That is the information I wanted to give, otherwise we are not celebrating.
MR PAJOBO: Thank you my sister for that good information. I was also enumerating that in fact there is no cause for celebration or being happy as a working class in this country. Workers have been left behind and it is the employers and investors that should not be disturbed. If you ask for a minimum wage, you are disturbing them. If you ask for good conditions of service you are disturbing them. If you ask for working instruments, you are disturbing investors. So, investors take it all. Therefore, it is investors who are going to celebrate; we the workers are going to mourn -(Interruption)
DR BARYOMUNSI: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I just want to provide further information to the Member on the Floor and the entire House that actually the issue of payment of workers is a serious matter in this country. One of the professions, the health profession and I am sure the Minister of Health knows this issue, there is a severe complaint from doctors and other health workers  there is a petition, which has been brought to this House signed by the most senior doctors in this country and the complaint is that we are losing very many doctors and other health professionals to outside countries, including our neighbouring countries, because the pay is poor.
And, therefore, we should take the matter very seriously because there is a crisis within the health sector. When you talk to most health workers, there is a go-slow kind of strike because they are de-motivated and it is a matter which we must act on as Parliament and address it.
Thirdly in the coming budget there is no provision for enhancement of the salaries of doctors. I thank you very much.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Pajobo, please wind up.
MR PAJOBO: Thank you for this very important information. In fact one of the people who are badly hit are the doctors. In fact our people, the working class, it is time for government to look for a salary structure in this country. Today the salary structure -(Member timed out)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, really this was not for debate. And we are going to debate the budget. You will have an opportunity to say all these things. Please, I have got four other statements.
MR PATRICK AMURIAT (FDC, Kumi County, Kumi): Thank you hon. Minister for the statement and we congratulate the workers of this country and workers internationally, upon commemorating the International Labour Day.
I have a few questions to ask the minister and also a form of clarification for the Rt Hon. Prime Minister. Scientists, year in year out, are moving out of this country. Other professionals are also doing the same. Hon. Baryomunsi has just cited a case here. We have an exodus of doctors from this country to the neighbouring countries, Rwanda to be specific.
I would like to ask Dr Otaala who is Minister of State for Labour why this is happening and secondly, what deliberate steps the Government of Uganda is taking to ensure that we are able to recover those professionals who have since left the country.
NGOs in this country play a very active role in the development of the country. In fact they fill up gaps where governments inadequacies are realised. As we commemorate the International Labour Day, we have got to appreciate the role of NGOs in creating employment for the citizens of this country. Unfortunately, there is an attempt by some government ministers to fight NGOs.
I have before me a letter that is written by a minister in government, to be specific, Hon. Musa Ecweru, who is the Minister of State for Relief and Disaster Preparedness; he wrote a letter to the Permanent Secretary to the Prime Ministers Office urging him to stop NUREP funding to a number of local NGOs in the Teso sub-region. The letter is here and I do not know whether it is necessary for me to read it but I will lay it on the Table after this. I am aware that the letter is copied to the Prime Minister himself, the Minister of State for Karamoja, the Minister of State for Northern Uganda and the Principal Private Secretary to the President urging the stopping of funding to those local NGOs in Teso and Karamoja and also citing that these people are anti-government and carrying out anti-government programmes in the region. I think this is not only serious but extremely annoying -(Interruption)
DR EPETAIT: Thank you, honourable colleague, for giving way. The information I have regarding the same letter is that NUREP has been supporting 16 NGOs some of which are local and others international, including Oxfam, IRC, AVSI and those NGOs in total employ over 30,000 people. As we speak now, in the Teso sub-region people are in total shock. In Amuria and Katakwi districts, this afternoon they had a meeting where some people burst into tears. I am afraid that on that day  you are most welcome to Soroti  but there will be some bit of mourning because we cannot afford to lose NUREP funds for Teso and Karamoja regions.
The anti-government activities that the minister is alluding to are not even specific and that is a total let down for the very region, which is in dire need of this support.
MR AMURIAT: Thank you for the information. I am extremely disappointed by this letter, which makes a number of recommendations, in actual sense seven recommendations including the suspension of a one Stephen Kluge, who is the leader of the team managing this programme in Teso and Karamoja and the blocking of accounts of these NGOs.
I believe government should not operate this way. Certainly when the Opposition comes to power one day, it will not operate this way. I would like a response from the Prime Minister and I urge him to put sanctions on this particular minister who seems to have gone out of hand. I thank you. I wish to lay this letter on the Table. It is dated 24 April 2009, addressed to the PS of the Office of the Prime Minister Kampala and reference is: Abuse of Government of Uganda/EU-NUREP funds. I beg to lay it on the Table.
THE PRIME MINISTER (Prof. Apolo Nsibambi): Thank you. First of all, I would like to know how hon. Amuriat got hold of that letter because it was confidential.
MR AMURIAT: This letter was posted in my pigeonhole. I found it there this morning and I want to inform the Prime Minister that a copy of this letter is being circulated in Amuria as we speak now and it is no longer confidential. It is actually hanging on the notice board of the government offices in Amuria. You should not even be surprised that I have it.
PROF. NSIBAMBI: Well, whoever is circulating this letter is extremely wrong. But let me say that this morning I met the head of the European Delegation and we have discussed this matter. We are sorting it out and I do not intend to say much about it. I am aware that this letter has caused problems and I am trying to resolve them. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR LABOUR (Dr Emmanuel Otaala): Thank you, Madam Speaker. I thank colleagues for their questions. I will be quite brief and at another opportune moment I will come here with a comprehensive statement regarding labour issues. But allow me to address the main issues that were raised.
Hon. Alaso talked about the minimum wage for Ugandans, exploitation of Ugandans and I would like to say that we are addressing these issues in the draft employment policy that we have. My ministry has now come up with a draft employment policy; we are enriching it with input from various stakeholders. And as you are aware, we are operating a liberalised economy in this country. Issues of minimum wage are a function of the economy. I would like the honourable members to recall those days when we used to line up for soap (Interjections)- not allowed. Madam Speaker, as I said, I should be allowed to answer only the questions that have been raised.
When finally, we improve on this economy as we are doing (Interruption)
MS ALASO: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Is the honourable minister in order to come to this Floor and make the same statement, reading word for word, like the one that was made to this House by his immediate predecessor  hon. Obbo, when we asked him a similar question? Actually this was the same statement made last year by hon. Rukutuna. Do you have a script from which you, ministers of labour, read from? Is he in order?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, I think that is consistency. (Laughter)
DR OTAALA: Thank you, Madam Speaker, for your wise ruling. But as I was saying, we are now somewhere; we have attained minimum recovery and now on the take off. I can assure you that with the improvement in our economy, the workers will get better pay.
The question that I would like to address is in regard to what our host, the MP for Soroti Municipality, asked. I would like to assure you the issue of youth unemployment is at the centre of the concerns that my ministry is addressing currently. For example, just two weeks ago, I was in Soroti meeting the youth on how to improve on the informal sector as an avenue of providing more employment opportunities. This is also one of the issues contained in our draft policy. I am hopeful that when the policy is completed, I will be able to share that information with you.
Hon. Beti Kamya wanted to know how we are creating employment opportunities. She also wanted to know what the theme for last years celebrations was. I would like to inform the House that the theme for last years celebrations was: Employment creation for Prosperity-for-All. I would like to add that we have gone a long way in implementing this policy. I am saying this because as you know, government is currently implementing the Prosperity-for-All policy.
I would like to say that I appreciate what each one of you has been doing in your respective constituencies in terms of focusing on agricultural production and commercial agriculture as ways of creating employment for our people.
Hon. Alisemera asked something about the Ebola victims. I would like to say that, yes, it is the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development that is responsible for compensating the families of the victims of the Ebola scourge. And I would like to say that we are currently in the process; we have for example received submissions from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Public Service towards the compensation of the families of the Ebola victims. I am hopeful that soon they will receive their packages.
I can recall that hon. Obua talked about the many challenges but I would like to inform him that we are addressing those challenges using our employment policy.
He also asked a question on when we will be operationalising the industrial court. But I would like to say that my ministry has written to the Chief Justice of Uganda, as an interim measure, to provide us a judge in order for us to tackle the 300 cases or so, which we now have as backlog.
However, as a long-term measure, we are addressing what has caused the delay. And I can report that there was a problem regarding the name that was to be given to the presiding judge. Although the previous law provided for the position of the President of the Industrial Court, the new law provides for the Chief Judge of the Industrial Court. This caused a misunderstanding among ministries, forcing the Ministry of Public Service to write to us. Anyway, we have now rectified that; we think that soon we should be able to have the Industrial Court in place.
There was a question from hon. Lumumba Justine on what the common message for this day is. I would like to say that we have sent out a common message to all the districts of Uganda. As I did say, a synopsis was forwarded to all the districts; we expect all of them to focus on that synopsis as the common message with the common theme in order to address and commemorate the Labour Day this year. Madam Speaker, it is difficult for me to begin reading the synopsis; it is a whole detail. But since I have already given you the theme for this years celebrations, allow me move to the issue of safety of workers.
I would like to say that we have put in place, various labour laws the Occupational and Health Act, No. 06 of 2006, the Union Act and so forth. All these laws are meant to protect the workers. For example, the Union Act particularly helps workers to create unions at all places of work. It also addresses the issue of collective bargaining for commensurate pay for the workers. What we are doing now is to discuss the issues of welfare for the workers.
I would like to inform hon. Pajobo that although I did say that we are going to commemorate this day, I would like to add that we have to celebrate because there are achievements, which we have got. As we commemorate this day, I would like to inform the House that we have made various strides that warrant celebrating.
Hon. Tuunde raised a question, but I would like to inform you and the House that indeed it is true that the International Labour Organisation marked its 90th Anniversary yesterday. However, I would like to inform the House that since 1963 when Uganda joined the ILO we have ratified 31 conventions and domesticated many including the six labour laws that were passed here in 2006 and some in 2004. So you can see that we have something to celebrate.
Finally, let me respond to what hon. Amuriat asked about the reason scientists are leaving the country. I would like to say that I have already stated that as a country, our policy on liberalisation includes the liberalisation of labour. One of the issues that the sociologists agitated for was bonding workers.
As per our policy we cannot bond Ugandan workers; they are free to go out of the country and source for better employment opportunities. In fact one of the Statutory Instrument is that on the externalisation of labour, which is fetching this country US $6.2 million every month, over and above any other foreign currency earner. Madam Speaker, I thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Minister, we are aware that we made those laws but I think what the Parliament expects to hear is the real measure for implementation and the funding to implement those laws. I think that is what is missing. So we hope to hear that in the budget.
Now I will ask Members to follow up the other issues in the general debate on the State of the Nation Address, and the Budget. So let us move on to the electricity now.
DR FRANCIS EPETAIT (FDC, Ngora County, Kumi): Madam Speaker, I have got a note which I have failed to understand and I am wondering whether it is intended to intimidate me. I am being asked why I am dancing in the forest when the lion is on a hunting spree somewhere. I just do not understand this kind of note. It is from my colleague hon. Akol Rose. So I am wondering what this kind of statement would mean. (Laughter)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, you know we have poets in this House. I think she was just writing a poem. Proceed with the next item.
THE MINISTER FOR ENERGY AND MINERAL DEVELOPMENT (Mr Hillary Onek): Thank you, Madam Speaker. This is a statement to Parliament on the power supply to Arua and Nebbi Districts.
Madam Speaker, and hon. Members, I wish to take this opportunity to appraise you on the steps which government has taken to address the current electricity supply problems in the West Nile region, particularly Arua and Nebbi.
As background information, I wish to inform the House that electricity in Arua and Nebbi Districts is supplied by a private company, M/S West Nile Rural Electrification Company, WENRECO. It will be recalled that government took a policy decision to involve the private sector in the power generation and distribution business and the 1999 Electricity Act was passed by this House to operationalise that government policy.
Consequently, WENRECO was awarded a concession to generate and supply power to that region. In order to buy down the tariff and make electricity relatively affordable to the consumers, government granted a subsidy to the concessionaire, WENRECO, to the tune of US $8.25 million towards the construction of Nyagak small hydropower plant.
Government put US $6 million towards the heavy fuel plant which is the current generator and which has been supplying the region, US $600,000; and the distribution network, that is the electricity distribution lines to the region, US $1.65 million.
WENRECO is supposed to invest the US $6.6 million that government provided for the Nyagak Power Plant as follows:
US $3 million was given as equity by government to the company, and US $3.6 million was taken by the company as a loan but with government guarantee.
WENRECO took over the concession and started effective commercial operation of the heavy fuel oil power plant in 2005. There was steady supply until late last year when services started to go down. In the course of last month, WENRECO stopped supplying power altogether without informing government.
On the part of Nyagak small hydropower plant, the plan had made progress especially on the part of the equipment, that is, the turbines, generators, transformers and control gear, which were delivered on site. However, the civil works sub-contractor performed poorly and could not finish the works on schedule at the end of 2008 as earlier planned.
Let me clarify something. This sub-contractor was hired by WENRECO and not government. While we agree that there are certain conditions which have prevailed in the market like the high oil prices, escalation in prices of steel and cement that have made it difficult for WENRECO to perform and leading to heavy operational losses and increased capital expenditure on the investment side, WENRECO has also contributed significantly to the non-performance of the concession through the engagement of a poor civil works contractor. And also, in the manner in which they operate, if the Nyagak Power Plant had been completed, the shut down of the heavy fuel power plant which was due for overhaul may not have arisen.
Under the circumstances, government has met with WENRECO and put in place a course of action for restoration of power supply and strict conditionalities for the latter to perform as follows:
"  WENRECO has to engage a new and competent civil works contractor to finish the remaining works of Nyagak within six months.
"  Government will provide funds to purchase fuel to operate the heavy fuel oil power plant in Arua immediately and overhaul the power plant. This statement was supposed to have been made last week, so we have already procured the fuel.
"  An escrow account will be opened by WENRECO and the Rural Electrification Agency, which is the government arm, in order to manage and administer all revenues collected from the power consumers. In other words, government is now going to get directly involved in the management of that power plant, which was private in order to guarantee power supply to West Nile.
"  The Auditor-General has been detailed to carry out an audit of WENRECO in order for government to ring fence all liabilities which the company has accumulated so that the subsidies dispersed are not used to settle any previous liabilities. We are going to safeguard whatever support we are going to give.
With the above measures, Madam Speaker and hon. Members, I wish to assure this august House that government will no doubt address the power supply of the West Nile region and other regions in a sustainable manner.
My ministry will continue to give information concerning our operations to this House on a regular basis so that we are together all the way.
Currently, we are reviewing the role of government particularly with respect to private power generators. We want to review this because these private power generators are business people.
In the Act that you passed, there was no provision, which could enable government to control this private sector generation of power. We are reviewing this and I will bring a report to the House so that we have a say in controlling this.
We have to control the private sector that is generating power because they supply this power to the electricity grid that the people of Uganda consume. They supply to government so that power is finally delivered to the consumers. However, most often, the private sector has a tendency to hiking costs of production and this is one of the things that, in my view, government has to control and these are measures that we are going to take.
Next week, I will bring to this House a detailed programme of rural electrification for the whole country. I want all Members of Parliament to look at it and make contributions regarding the areas in their districts or constituencies that may need attention so that we update our programme to address the needs of rural electrification for the entire country. Those are the additional statements that I thought would accompany this statement. Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: This issue was raised by hon. Angufiru and hon. Arumadri. Hon. Arumadri -
MR JOHN ARUMADRI (FDC, Madi-Okolo County, Arua): Thank you, Madam Speaker. To those of us in the West Nile region, this is a matter of life and death and for that reason; I do not intend to mince my words. We find the ministers statement very unconvincing. This is the usual lullaby sung by government to send the people of West Nile to sleep. I want to repeat here, for the third time, that our eyes are open and we have no intention of sleeping.
About a week ago, government brought two requests to this House for loans to enhance electricity in areas, which already have power. A second request was to connect this country to our neighbours. We were wondering why in the 21st Century, a whole region of the country comprising of seven districts of Nebbi, Arua, Maracha-Terego, Koboko, Yumbe, Moyo and West Nile is in darkness.
In 2002-2003 a study was conducted by a South African company, which stated that the most sustainable way of extending electricity to the West Nile region is to connect it to the national grid from Kamdini. If we did that, along the way we would be dropping power in the areas of Agung in Amuru, Oluyo, Purongo and a branch to the East to serve Anaka, continue through Pabbo to the district headquarters of Amuru and end up in Adjumani.
That is what we want as part of this country. When there is general darkness, let the whole country feel it. When there is power, we must have a piece of that small power. That is what is meant by equity and that is the spirit of the Constitution; that all areas of this country must be served equally.
We dont want to feel that we are a part of DRC as we pay taxes to this Government. This study was not implemented because of the Kony factor; that we could not run a high tension line across Murchison Falls National Park to the West Nile area because of Kony.
We are told very abundantly that Kony is no more. The cost of providing fuel to run a thermal generator in the short and long run is very expensive. We must use this money to connect the West Nile region to the national grid. This is our cry. We are not listening to this lullaby.
Madam Speaker, as I finish, let me mention our leaders. When His Excellency the President goes to our region, instead of telling the father of the nation that, Here is where the shoe is pinching us, we dont have this and that, instead they have become party recruiters. They say, You see your Excellency we are trying to work. 6,500 people have crossed from FDC to the Movement - my check! What is this? You are elected to serve your people and you are now sweet talking His Excellency. When he is there you provide power for 24 hours and he thinks you have almost arrived -(Interruption)
MR OKELLO-OKELLO: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I thank the honourable member on the Floor for giving way. The information I want to give is that during the campaigns of 2006, people complained about the lack of tarmac roads to presidential candidate Yoweri Museveni who was addressing a rally in Adjumani. He told the crowds, We are tarmacking the road to Arua; it is very near, you can smell it from here. Maybe they are also asking the people who are in darkness to smell electricity.
MR ARUMADRI: Madam Speaker, I want to finish. In my culture, we say that when you are the one dividing meat, you cannot fail to go home with a piece. We have sons of the soil at the table where meat is being divided; we have a son in the Ministry of Finance; we have another son who is directly in charge of energy -(Applause) we have another cousin from Lamwo who is the Senior Minister in Energy but these sons have failed to come home with our piece of meat. We want to put them on notice. (Laughter) If they do not deliver, this small cake to us, they should not cross Karuma. (Laughter) Thank you.
MS CHRISTINE BAKO (FDC, Woman Representative, Arua): Thank you so much, Madam Speaker. When hon. John Arumadri talks with that passion, you can expect what can come out of me.
But I want to begin by just giving you a little bit of a background to this problem. The last presidential visit to the West Nile Region was for four days and there was power in the region for 24 hours for the four days and immediately the presidential jet left the region there has been a supply of darkness ever since.
As John Arumadri said, This is a matter of life and death. I first want to register my disappointment in the way our regional referral hospital is suffering because of lack of power. Today as I talk, gynaecologists in the labour ward are feeling the heads of children using candles. Now imagine in a state - if I went into labour today in Arua Hospital, my minister would have to use a candle to check whether my baby is in the right position. And this is the extent to which this is a problem.
Our medical supplies that require power for preservation are threatened. We cannot be sure whether our vaccines are in the right state or not. Today the Minster of Labour has come out to talk about celebrating Labour Day and yet the absence of power has caused unprecedented unemployment in the region.
As I talk now, I have more than 6,000 unemployed in Arua town. If you came to Arua town today, the number of bicycles and unemployed youth walking in the streets because they cannot any longer be employed in their metal works, in fabrication, photocopying and all those activities that require power, is so disturbing.
And as hon. John Arumadri has rightly put it, our three ministers, should you not deliver what is happening, please attempt not to go there. What about school performance problems? These are all power related problems and they have never been taken seriously.
Madam Speaker, to show you the fact that the Minister seems to be joking, I went to West Nile Rural Electricity Company (WENRECO) offices and talked to the manager in Arua, he told me he could not break even although government was heavily subsidizing the heavy fuels. Now what was that in short, that this was a company not capable of running first of all the thermal plant let alone having the capacity to do the hydro plant in Nyagak?
He was advised by the site engineer that, Please, sub-contract another person or another firm for civil works, but that has never been done until now. The one that was done is substandard so whose word do we take for what, Mr Minister?
The civil works problem started long ago. They gave us six deadlines as to when they would deliver power to the region. All those deadlines passed but there is no power.
As I talk now, all the mechanical and electrical works could go in place but there is no civil works. And as we talk -(Interjection) it may be there but I can assure you that the iso-cost of that investment are not tandem with the iso-quant, if you remember your economics.
Madam Speaker, they are talking about the overhauling which is the problem. They knew very well that over a period of time this whole plant would need an overhaul. What is happening? They have deliberately done nothing about it and they say that the current state is because of the overhauling. That is not true. The minister needs a thorough explanation.
We are talking about government being ready to supply heavy fuel to run that thermal plant for US $80,000 per a month; this is extremely expensive. And if you do this over a period of six months  8 times 6 plus the number of zeros, you get the amount you need. If you invest all that money in the civil works, we would get power in less than six months from Nyagak. So, hon. Minister when you are in Cabinet passing US $80,000 per a month in heavy fuels, why dont you convert that in three months and give us clean electricity?
You are talking about seeking the audit. For the last three months you have been telling us that the Solicitor-General, the Auditor-General, we have to do a comprehensive audit and isolate the liabilities from the assets so that government takes over. First of all when you crafted this agreement, you did clumsy work. Some of these things are not transferable by the power of this agreement. Now tell me, apart from proceeding to the courts of law immediately, how do we intend to do this if you check that agreement? Because some of the assets and in fact the concessions are not transferable at all. One of which is the Olewo Mini Hydro-Power Plant that is not transferable in the short run. How do you expect to run like that?
MR TOSKIN: Madam Speaker, is it in order for the honourable member to really address the minister so closely and forgetting to address him through the Speaker? Is she in order?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, you address the minister through me and please, conclude. I know you dont like the darkness but please, conclude.
MS BAKO: You know the President talks of detractors but thank you for your ruling, I will take it that way that there are some detractors but I do not know how much electricity is in his constituency.
Anyway, I want to ask the minister to tell me how much over the period of time has been the actual investment of WENRECO into power production, supply and distribution in the region? Because as far as I know, it has been government doing these things a, b, c, and d many times. How much is the actual investment because there has been minimal extension of the power lines to domestic users? And the lines we are using were laid during the time the elections were approaching around the end of 2005. So, how much is the actual investment?
There is basically minimum lighting in Arua town as a result of people procuring their own generators and that is environmentally dangerous to us because everywhere you go there is noise in Arua and even now, if you took the President, you need US $80,000 to supply power for four consecutive days. Meanwhile, if I were to walk into the labour ward, there would be absolute darkness. Hon. Minister, are you delivering this power to West Nile as soon as immediately? Madam Speaker, there should be no joking.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, you will have an opportunity during the budget. Please be brief.
MS BAKO: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. In paragraph 6 the minister said that there are some conditions, which have prevailed in the market like the oil prices, escalation in prices of steel and cement. I would like to know whether these high prices are related to the current world financial crisis we are facing. If it is so, what is the government doing to mitigate further pressures from this?
Secondly, the minister has promised that at a later date he will give us details of how the rest of the regions are going to get power. But if you can briefly tell us when Karamoja region is also going to get this awaited power to be connected from Soroti - and colleagues you do remember that this promise was given some 15 years ago. Will these sleeping Karimojong, if they are at all sleeping, wait for another 15 years to receive this power?
DR FRANCIS EPETAIT (FDC, Ngora County, Kumi): Madam Speaker, in paragraph 3 of page 1 we are told the concession for construction of Nyagak small hydro power plant was US $6 million and then in paragraph 6 the minister laments how WENRECO has contributed significantly to the non-performance of the concession through engagement of the poor civil works of the contractor.
But in paragraph 7, government met with WENRECO and it is like it is just being pampered that, WENRECO, now that you engaged a poor civil sub-contractor, you can go ahead and engage a competent one, to finish the remaining works. That gives me the impression that the poor work so far done by the first contractor has to stay on.
I would like to find out from the honourable minister what sanctions have been given to WENRECO for that anomaly of poor civil works; now they are going to engage a new contractor to complete the remaining works. What happens to the poor ones that have already been done and how much was spent on the poor ones? That is all I want to find out.
MR FELIX OKOT OGONG (NRM, Dokolo County, Lira): Madam Speaker, I think this matter we are addressing stems from a problem of policy. And if we are to address this problem then we must do that. The problem we have is that government decided to privatise the supply and distribution of utilities to private companies and that is why we have this problem.
Look at WENRECO, which was concessioned to generate and supply power. US $8.25 million was given to that company, US $6 million was still given to this company and this company only came with US $3 million. And yet government has already spent a lot of money giving them the concession. So now the problem lies with government. We are not serious; we have just handled our utilities to private people who cannot deliver. Look at Umeme, the distribution and supply of power in Uganda is the worst.
Last time I described to you the power in Lira that is epileptic. Every time it is on and off. Even thunder alone will take away power. (Laughter) Even a heavy vehicle moving on the streets of Lira will actually switch off power. This is all because we have companies that do not deliver. And as government we are just seated here and just lamenting and therefore the minister made it clear - and I want to thank him - that the problem stems from our policy and in his regime he is going to review.
And I want to agree with him that reviewing it is him, but when you go to Cabinet, there is collective responsibility and what if government refuses to review that policy, what are you going to do? Because as a minister you have given us your position [MR BYANYIMA: You are talking from experience.] No, no. I am not. Therefore, I want to appeal to my government, I want to appeal to Members of Parliament that this is the time that we need to review our bad policies. Let us bring back delivery and distribution of public utilities to government. Let us give it to government because Umeme has failed, this Nyangak has failed, everybody has failed. It is now Government.
Even in America, they are now actually taking back companies; they are now being owned by government because private companies have already failed. Therefore, Mr Minister, I want you as soon as possible to deliver that Cabinet paper, bring it here and we review our policy.
MS HUDA OLERU (Independent, Woman Representative, Yumbe): Thank you, Madam Speaker. I have some few concerns on this report. One on page 3 of the statement the minister says they are going to have a better company, which is going to complete that work within six months. I would like to know starting from when? Because all along in West Nile we have been given duration: Within one month you will get power; within three months you will get power. So this time, I want to know, six months, starting from which month and ending in which month? We need to be specific.
Otherwise, this programme is making us liars as leaders of that region. What I want to tell this House today is that the people of West Nile do not want liars. (Laughter) If you know that you cannot do it, do not tell them, or else tell them, We are not doing it at this time. At least they will be convinced. Otherwise, if you say, We shall do it this time and you fail, the third time they become so wild and with the way they will do things, you will not believe that they are human beings. We need to tell them the right thing and when it should be done.
I want to ask one question: why was WENRECO chosen as the company for energy in West Nile? Was it because it was the only viable company to do the project in West Nile? Although the minister had promised that next week he will bring a better report where the MPs will forward their complaints, I want the minister to explain briefly the plan he has to connect Arua, Terego, Maracha, Yumbe, Moyo and maybe Adjumani. In the failed plan, there was nothing like Maracha, Terego, Yumbe, or Moyo. We are being isolated (Interjection)- Koboko is already in the plan, even for tamarcking. I am now talking about the districts, which have not surfaced in any plan of this government.
CAPT. (RTD) GUMA GUMISIRIZA (NRM, Ibanda County North, Ibanda): Thank you, Madam Speaker. Privatisation was and is still a good policy for government to divest its interests from certain aspects of business activities. However, it was very unfortunate that the privatisation exercise ended up being a profiteering exercise. As hon. Okot said, there are certain fundamental aspects of a country and an economy that must remain under the leader of the household. Privatising utilities like electricity, water, railways is a fundamental policy flaw. We made our views very clear in 1996 to 1999 when this policy was put in place. We said, Fine, privatise Coffee Marketing Board but there are certain aspects that must remain with the owner in order for him to be in charge. Certain aspects of an economy must be administered for purposes of welfare and not profit making or commercial purposes, like power.
When people are saying, Do not carry out deforestation, what do you want the people to do? They have to cut the forest in order to survive; they need energy. Hon. Hilary Onek does not have the money (Interjections) well ,I am saying that he is tied by the policy which is in place. Government must provide power to the nationals. This business of hiding under (Interjections) government must provide power and water to Ugandans. The railway has failed. Some of the ministers who have been in charge of the privatisation sector  like this sister of mine from Kapchorwa who is away  know that the majority of private companies are a hoax like RVR and Umeme.
Are you aware that in the agreement which government signed with Umeme, Umeme was supposed to inject something like US $80 million into the infrastructure to revamp it so that there is reduction of power loss? These people are instead using the rotten infrastructure, which they inherited and they are externalising money! In which part of the country has Umeme carried out revamping of the infrastructure which they inherited?
Aya, Phoenix Logistics, Kingdom Kampala - why do you bring fake companies? Why cant we contract private formidable companies that can come here with money? Incidentally, hon. Onek, how much of the US $8.25 million has government already released and how much of the US $6.6 million - the equity - has WENRECO injected in? We want to know the exact figures, hon. Onek. You are a mathematician and an engineer, give us statistics. We want to look at them.
You are saying WENRECO stopped supplying power altogether; why? What problems did they have after all these subsidies by government? They have abrogated the contract or something. Who are the shareholders in WENRECO?
Hon. Hilary Onek has said he wants to give a comprehensive picture of power in the whole country  that is extremely beautiful. I wanted to ask that but you read our minds. That is fine. By the way, give us a timeframe on that one. When are you bringing this comprehensive national power structure plan? Also, you tell us how much money of the US $8.25 has been paid to WENRECO. Tell us how much of the US $6.6 equity this company has spent and who the shareholders are, so that we can debate from an informed position. Thank you.
MR OKUMU: Madam Speaker, I am seeking a very small clarification from the minister. First of all, I would like to congratulate him for assuming that office. When hon. Hilary Onek was the Managing Director of National Water and Sewerage Corporation, he wrote a letter to us while I was in the Sixth Parliament, and I remember I laid that letter on the Table. In that letter he said that he was against the construction of the second power dam at Kiira Power Station. As many will agree with me, that construction failed to be sustained; it collapsed. I am actually happy that hon. Hilary Onek is in the right chair today and I encourage him to remain bold.
After the privatisation process, three parastatals were created: the Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited,  Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited and Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited. With all these companies in place, how come these things took place? I thought they have the role and responsibility to oversee and monitor, and make sure private investors deliver at each and every stage!
Lastly, on page 3 you said that the Auditor-General has been detailed. I would like to know whether government has a share in this. I am asking this because the laws are very clear  the Auditor-General is not allowed to audit private firms. With the old Audit Act, the Auditor-General used to only audit firms in which government had majority shares. With the new Audit Act of 2008, the Auditor-General can even audit firms where government has only a few shares, even if it just one percent. I would like to understand this because on the front page you say that this is purely a private company. How many shares are owned by government in this company because  (Interruption)
MR KATUNTU: Just some clarification on the same point. May I also take the opportunity to know who actually owns the company, West Nile Rural Electrification Company? Who are the shareholders and the directors?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Please, conclude.
MR OKUMU: Madam Speaker, basically that is what I had to raise. I can conclude by asking whether the minister knows that the Auditor-General, in doing his duties, reports to Parliament and that such reports, whether asked for by government or not, must be brought to Parliament? It will be up to the Members of Parliament to decide which reports to look at. I thank you.
THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION (Prof. Morris Ogenga-Latigo): Thank you very much. I had not wanted to contribute to this item at this stage, but as the Minister of Energy was doing his presentation - and I thank him for the statement - he said with a lot of emphasis that the law did not provide for the regulation of those in the energy sector. He also talked about the law which you passed. Does he know that we have the Electricity Regulatory Authority, which we were told would be in charge of regulating all that happens in that sector? So, what happened to them in respect of the West Nile Rural Electrification Company and all those who are cheating this country? Did we put our faith wrongly in the Electricity Regulatory Authority? I am asking this because that was my understanding.
Let me also give information to this country; in 1996 when hon. Richard Kaijuka was the Minister of Energy, a Spanish company came and based on their target they offered to government to do, on a turn-key basis, the extension of electricity from Gulu to Adjumani, Moyo, Yumbe, Koboko, Arua, Nebbi and Packwach. Hon. Richard Kaijuka wrote to the Ministry of Finance requesting them  I am saying this because I have got copies of all those documents  to authorise but that ministry rejected that offer. Not long after, the same Ministry of Finance asked for Spanish funding to build hospitals. That ministry used that funding to build hospitals in Kisoro, Kaboong and a large unit in Adjumani, which had a fairly good health centre.
At that stage  I am also perusing through the power line, which eventually was constructed after we got funding from Sida  I kind of gave up on the way things happen in our government. So, when I see the anger from hon. John Arumadri and compare it with the beautiful words from the minister, I get reminded of what happened that time. That is why I thought I should put it across for the information of the Members of this House. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND MINERAL DEVELOPMENT (Mr Hilary Onek): Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I also would like to thank my colleagues, hon. Members, for their contributions to this paper.
First of all, I would like to assure my cousin, hon. Arumadri, that I will still cross the River Nile at Karuma because I am sure he did not mean what he said. I also would like to assure him that in my life and career, I have never lied to anybody. I normally do not lie when I am talking about serious issues. So when I tell you that we are going to work on this West Nile thing and get a sustainable solution backed with engineering support, I know it will be worked on because I am following it up diligently. Even if it delays a bit, I will make sure West Nile does not go through this same problem again. Please, be assured.
On the government loan that was asked for and which is before you, I would like to say that it is not for non-existent areas. It is actually meant to strengthen the existing network. You will appreciate this situation when I bring you the comprehensive report on how to strengthen our systems. I can promise that I will listen to your advice because matters of development do not have anything to do with politics; they touch all of us together. I would like to ask you to be with us in handling this; there should be no politics in it.
On connection of power from Kamdini as an option, I can say that we are also looking at it.
There was a question on the use of money for fuel in West Nile. I would like to say that this being an emergency we are looking forward to having some form of power restored while we design means of addressing the bigger issues.
My brother, hon. Okello-Okello said that when those of Adjumani and Moyo asked for tarmac, they were told that the tarmac was just nearby and that they could even smell it. I would like to say that indeed the smell is getting closer. As government, we are scheduled to tarmac the road from Gulu to Pabo and the one from Atiak to Nimule. We will later on join the one to Adjumani. That is in the programme. At least as a member of government, I have seen it. Along with that, I would like to say that our engineers are already surveying the power line from Gulu to Adjumani. I know that we are going to construct that line within the nearest future.
I would like to say that it is true that when the President visited West Nile, the businessmen there deceived him that they were managing the system. They turned the power on briefly while he was still there but when he left, they turned it off. This is a problem because we do not have government presence on their board to control them from within the quarters. This is important because they are always making errors. I know that the Electricity Regulatory Authority is there, but it is at a distance and only works on the post mortem reports that they give. That is why I am saying that we need government presence in that thing. I have had 16 years of managing utilities and I know how they can be manipulated. Anyway, this is a policy position that we are going to work on. I would like to promise that once it is ready, we shall bring it before you in this House.
I would like to assure my sister that before her next delivery, there will be power in Arua. (Laughter)
Let me say something about the inability of West Nile Rural Electrification Company. I would like to assure Members that that is already cleared. We have asked the Auditor-General to audit them because government has injected money into it and as you know, such money has to be followed up by that office. I would like to add that government does not have any shares in this company. The company is owned by the Aga Khan Group of Companies.
Madam Speaker, there was a question on how much has been invested in this project. I would like to respond by referring members to my report because in it, I have already mentioned how much money has been committed to this project.
On the escalation of prices, I would like to say that at least as of now, fuel prices have come down. So, West Nile Rural Electrification Company has no reason, but we are now going to start supplying them with fuel because that is within the contract. They had asked for cash but we have objected to that. I would like to inform you that the regulatory authority has already given them a 45 days notice. They are now left with only 25 days with effect from today to justify why their contract cannot be cancelled. If they do not come out clearly, we will be forced to terminate the agreement in relation to that project.
My brother from Karamoja talked about the issue of extending power to that area. I would like to say that from the time I got to my office, we have been working on extending the programme for power extension from Mbale to Nakapiripirit and Moroto itself. We also hope to extend it to Katekekile where Tororo Cement Industry has started a stone quarry because we want the Karimojong to also benefit from those job opportunities. We are also taking power to that place so that Tororo Cement Industry can start grinding the stones from there. It is hoped that this will see many Karimojong get jobs.
We are also working on the programme to extend power to Katakwi and Toroma. That is an immediate programme. We will also extend power to Corner Kilak, Pader, Lira Paluo and Patong, Kalongo, Adilang and Abim in the Karamoja region. When we get to those places, our next step will be to extend it to Kotido. Those are our possible programmes on table. Let me add that we are also planning to extend power to Namukora from Kitgum and Orom, which will eventually see it being extended to Karamoja particularly in Kaboong areas.
MR ODONGA OTTO: I would like to say that the power extension from Kilak to Pader and Abim has already started. I would like to inform the House that Pader town will receive power by October this year. (Laughter)
MR ISHAA OTTO: Thank you, Madam Speaker. When the honourable minister was enumerating the areas for the immediate programme for the extension of power lines, I did not hear him talk about Ayer and Kamdini. He did not mention those places yet in many of the government communication documents that I received while his predecessor was in office, there was an indication that this year your ministry would start working on those power lines. So, can you give me the assurance now?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Minister, try to wind up, please.