Authorities in Uganda have defended the 2.5BN bill already earmarked to cater for burial expenses for the deceased parliament speaker Jacob Oulanyah saying it fits well in the status of his office.
According to the chairperson for the National Organizing Committee (NOC) overseeing Oulanyah’s burial, Hon Babirye Milly Babalanda, the issue shouldn’t be the figure but Oulanyah’s status.
“Regarding the budget for burying Rt Hon Oulanyah, what matters is not the figures but the activities involved and the status of the deceased..” Babalanda said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Jacob Oulanyah who was elected speaker of parliament in May last year died in the US hospital two weeks ago and his body is expected in the country on Friday. In preperation to accord him a beffitting send off, government has since drawn a staggering 2.5BN bill to cater for the deceased speaker’s funeral expenses, a figure that has triggered mixed reactions from the public.
According to the NOC, the 2.5BN will cater for expenses including paying funeral service providers, security, logistical expenses among others. Burial day expenditure takes the lions share of the budget (1.1BN), Security (158.5million), Acholi MPs (312.9million), Finance commiteee (247.8million), and A-Plus funeral Services (226million).
Oulanyah’s body is expected to arrive into the country from US on Friday and this will be followed by a week-long series of activities and he will later be buried in his home district of Omoro.
Oulanyah is the first speaker of parliament to die in office and the country together with it’s legal regime is experiencing the incident for the first time. According to the Parliamentary Pensions Act, Oulanyah deserves a state funeral with full honors befitting his status, and government must declare a period for national mourning.
Part D(2) of the law however limits funeral expenses for a speaker at only 30 percent of the gross annual salary, and an official statement made in media about the death of the speaker.
Before Oulayah’s death, government was on spot for close to 2BN shillings spent on his evacuation to US with a section of Ugandans in the Diaspora protesting the move on account that the evacuation was a consequence of neglect for the country’s healthcare system.
In a tweet, Milly Babalanda urged the public who are ranting over the figures in the budget to avoid “traumatizing” Oulanyah’s family members in this trying time.