Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has vowed to block the decision by Parliament’s Contracts Committee to use taxpayers’ money to give free Over the Top Services (OTT) and internet data to MPs in the 10th Parliament.
In remarks on payment of OTT for MPs Thursday, Kadaga said: “I do not support the idea of taxpayers footing the bill of OTT tax for Members of Parliament.”
She added: “I made this observation this morning, while addressing a press conference, at Parliament.”
Kadaga said although Parliament’s political leadership was not abreast of current events, an agreement had been reached between MTN and the House’s Contract Committee; that the OTT tax be met by taxpayers.
“I would like to reiterate that I am opposed to this arrangement. And if there is any such agreement, it will be overlooked,” she explained.
Chris Obore, the Director of Communications at Parliament, said Parliament provides MPs iPads for official use.
Once their term expires, they return these iPads or pay for them if they want to own.
“It’s these iPads that parliament is providing data through MTN. It’s not on MPs personal phones,” he explained.
While meeting with members of the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association, an umbrella body for journalists who cover Parliament, Kadaga said the decision by the Contracts Committee to award a deal to MTN Uganda to supply free internet and OTT services to MPs will have to be scrutinised afresh, on grounds that MPs should be in position to pay for the services as part of their legislative duties.
“I haven’t seen the agreement but I don’t believe that the public should pay OTT for MPs. I don’t support it,” Ms Kadaga said.
“I am going to investigate who took that decision and if there is a contract, we will have to scrutinise it because I don’t believe tax payers should pay MPs’ taxes, that is our duty because we are carrying out our duties.”
Parliament would have to spend up Shs198m taxpayers’ money to pay internet data and social media tax for the 458 MPs in 10th Parliament.
The MPs already enjoy free fuel, free medical insurance, free breakfast, free lunch and other benefits.