Members of Parliament on the Energy Committee are now moving to seek an urgent meeting with President Yoweri Museveni to ask him to intervene in the recent power tariff increments as a way of piling more pressure on government to stay their implementation.
The decision came on Wednesday following three hours of meeting between the committee members and the Energy and Mineral Development minister, Eng. Irene Muloni. During the meeting, the MPs insisted that the new power tariffs be stayed and warned Muloni and her ministry officials against disobeying parliamentary decisions reminding her that it would constitute contempt of parliament.
Muloni came to the committee meeting in the company of the Deputy Secretary to Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi, who informed the MPs that the finance ministry had tried to look for money from an alternative source to stay the power subsidy but had failed to find one.
Aruu County MP, Odonga Otto told Muloni and Muhakanizi that if the decision to increase the power tariffs for consumers through removal of government subsidies was taken at Cabinet level, then it was a better option for the MPs to directly meet the president and explain to him the effect the decision was having on the local consumer.
Muloni told the committee chaired by West Budaama South MP Jacob Oboth-Oboth, that ERA, the power regulator, is the final and independent body on matters of tariff setting but promised to brief the president as soon as possible on the sentiments raised by the committee. She said that Cabinet and the president were informed of the tariff hike after it became hard for government to raise more than 200 billion shillings needed to finish this financial year.
Muloni begged the population to appreciate the dilemma of government given the current financial difficulties.
The MPs insisted that the announcement of the new tariffs, before their own investigation of the same sector is finalised, was done to pre-empt their work and called on government to work in harmony with parliament.
Kasilo County MP, Elijah Okupa, said the tariffs could only be increased after some elaborate explanation to the people in coordination with their representatives in parliament. He accused government of acting in a unilateral manner.
Oboth-Oboth advised government to think of re-nationalising the power companies because splitting them up is the reason the power costs have to go high. He argued that bringing UMEME as a final distributor and having several other sub-providers within the same sector is the season for the high power costs in the country.
The committee is now waiting for another investigation report by the Auditor General on the sector to proceed with more inquiry.