The speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has scrapped the 45-minute prime minister’s question time, saying the new premier, Ruhakana Rugunda, needs time to prepare satisfactory responses to MPs’ queries.
Parliament had adopted the practice of instantaneous question-and-answer sessions from the United Kingdom’s House of Commons’ during the tenure of former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi as leader of government business in the august House.
However, while addressing Parliament during the Wednesday plenary session, Kadaga told MPs that while the practice would in theory enable the House to receive immediate answers, it robs the legislatures of the opportunity to receive comprehensive responses.
“Whereas the practice is considered [instantaneous], the prime minister [needs to] get detailed briefings [from various government departments] [so] adequate notice of questions is usually sent to the prime minister with the view of obtaining the evidence-based… [and] satisfactory responses,” the speaker argued.
Prime Minister Rugunda welcomed the speaker’s decision, saying that asking for immediate answers defeats the session’s primary purpose of furnishing Ugandans with up-to-date information on the executive’s decisions.
“The prime minister’s question time is an opportunity for government policy on various issues to come out clearly to the people of Uganda through their MPs. Hence the point of the government being able to do some work on certain specific questions so that authoritative information is given to MPs is important,” he said.
Rugunda added that where urgent issues require spontaneous responses, he will not have problems with reverting to the direct question-and-answer sessions.
Some MP, especially from the opposition, were, however, not happy with the adjustment. They argued that the decision paves the way for the prime minister to use the excuse of needing time to respond in order to duck issues that require the government’s urgent intervention.
Source : The Observer