Uganda’s parliament has given iPads to all MPs at a cost of $370,000 Uganda shillings (£230,000), saying it will make them more efficient. Parliamentary commissioner Emmanuel Dombo says it means MPs can access official documents while travelling.
He also said the funds had been generated by reducing the budget for paper, which would no longer be needed. However, the BBC’s Patience Atuhaire in Kampala says it has been criticised by many Ugandans as a waste of money. “Taxpayers are already paying too much to take care of their MPs,” opposition MP Semujju Ibrahim Nganda told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.
Mr Dombo described it as an “administrative decision”. Last year, MPs voted to increase their salaries by 38% – to more than $8,000 a month. The 375 lawmakers have also been given more than $41,000 each to buy a car.
In Kenya, each of the 349 members of the National Assembly will get an iPad when they return from recess early next year.The Parliamentary Service Commission has agreed to buy the MPs the gadgets to enable them read House rules on the go.
Homa Bay County women’s representative Gladys Wanga, a member of the commission, told the MPs Thursday: “You will be able to read the Standing Orders, the rules and procedures, on the iPad.”The purchase will cost the taxpayer over Sh17 million since each iPad costs around Sh50,000. The commission is struggling to provide offices to MPs.
The purchase may set a precedent for the next Parliament to demand expensive gadgets.Senators and the county assembly members could also follow suit and ask for the gadgets.The matter came up during debate on a report by the Procedure and House Rules Committee tabled in the House Thursday.The report was on a proposal to extend the life of Bills that will not have been concluded when the House breaks for recess.
Parliament adopted the report, meaning Bills left hanging at the end of any session will not lapse but will proceed from where they were left in the subsequent session.