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The Uganda Regime splashes 500m on MPs to cheer on Uganda Cranes in Gabon

Government has splashed over Shs500m of tax-payers money to foot bills of MPs and parliamentary staff who are in Gabon to watch the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament.

A source within the Parliament commission who preferred anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter said various committees and the commission sponsored about 25 MPs to travel and cheer the team.

The legislators’ daily maintenance costs in Gabon is thus a financial curse for the struggling economy and it might as well be good that the team has been ejected which will help cut on the expenses.

Each MP who stays outside the country is given a daily per Diem of $520 (about Shs1, 872,000).Each member of staff gets 320 dollars.

That means MPs spent Shs468, 000, 000 in per diem alone for the last ten days without the Speaker’s entourage and technical staff, which on average are five people.

MPs also spent another $19,750 (about Shs69, 125,000) on flight. A return Economy ticket to Gabon in Kenya airways cost $790.

On the other hand, MPs also splashed another $1,250 (aboutShs4, 423,620) in match tickets. Each ticket for a match in Gabon cost $50.

The quoted amount, however, doesn’t include the technical staff and the speaker’s extra costs.

Although the Ugandan team, budgeted Shs6billion to go through this tournament, the government gave them only Shs1 billion with a promise of another Shs1 billion should Cranes progress from group stage.

The Ugandan team could, therefore, be the poorest facilitated in Gabon and among the worst performers but via tax payer’s money, the cranes have the most expensive cheerers.

Some of the of the Mps on the delegation include; Anita Among, Mohammed Nsereko, Charles Bakabulindi, Moses Kasibante, Elijah Okupa,  Conney Nakayenza Galiwango, Odongo Otto, Harrison Obua, Allan Sewanyana and Jalia Bintu, and Peter Ogwang.

Nevertheless, our source indicated that MPs like Moses Kasibante, Allan Sewanyana, Charles Bakabulindi, and  Conney Nakayenza Galiwango are members of the Parliament committee on education and sports who would ordinarily be justified to travel because of the nature of their parliament duties as members of the committee on education and have to  play the oversight role.

But others belong to different committees like Anita Among on the statutory enterprise committee and Mohammed Nsereko belongs to the equal opportunities committee while Harrison Obua is the Captain of the parliamentary team.

Also, MPs Odongo Otto and Jalia Bintu are members of the Parliament football and netball team respectively.

It is reported that some of these MPs were facilitated from the parliamentary sports budget others were facilitated by their committees and the rest by the commission.

All in all, the MPs, irrespective of which budget they accessed to travel were all facilitated by the tax payers.

When contacted to find out whether their trip was being funded by parliament or the legislators themselves, the parliament spokesperson Chris Obore, in a rude response said the legislators had gone to watch football like any other fan.

“Parliament even contributed money for the Uganda Cranes so they have gone to watch football,”Obore told the SpearTeam referring to the Shs215m that parliament donated to the national team twice less than their trip expense, before he hang up on phone.

The extravagant expenditure comes hardly five months after the same institution spent Shs2billion on the Speaker and her deputy alongside a delegation of 78 MPs and several parliamentary support staff to attend a three days’ convention of Ugandans living in diaspora last year.

Some legislators who were contacted on the matter did not support the arrangement to sponsor their colleagues to travel and cheer the team in Gabon.

Although he said the delegation could have used their personal funds to travel to Gabon, Nakase County South MP Paul Lutamaguzi said “Parliament has the power to increase the sports budget other than spending money at the last minute to cheer them.”

But the fact that the deputy opposition Chief Whip Mugume Kaginda, when contacted, revealed that opposition was represented by MPs Kasibante, Okupa and Ssewanyana, is evident that the delegation was apparently funded by parliament.