MP Othieno tables bill seeking to regulate Real Estate Agents in Uganda

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Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah on Thursday 4, March 2021 waived a requirement for a mandatory certificate of financial implication, to allow West Budama North MP Richard Okoth Othieno to present his private member’s Bill entitled -the Real Estate Agents Bill, 2020.

The move followed a statement by MP Othieno in which he blamed the Ministry of Finance for failing to avail the certificate as required under section 76 (1) of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), 2015 despite his request dated 23rd September, 2020.

The Law and Parliament Rules of Procedure provide that all Bills introduced in the House shall be accompanied by a Certificate of Financial Implication issued by the Finance Minister indicating the impact of the Bill on the economy.

The certificate also indicates estimates of revenue and expenditure over the period of not less than two years after the coming into effect of the Bill.

Private members are also restricted from presenting Bills that impose a charge on the Consolidated Fund or any other public fund of Uganda. But the Ministry of Finance has severally been accused of using the provision to frustrate private members from tabling bills in Parliament.

Mr Othieno appealed to Parliament to allow him move under Article 117 (4) of the Rules of Procedure and Section 76 (4) of the PFMA, 2015 under which a certificate is deemed issued after 60 days of request and table the Bill for its first reading.

Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah said that the MP is entitled to proceed and present the Bill without a Certificate under the rules.

“But honorable Members I still think that the 60 days which is in the rules should not be taken that once you have written…you now keep quiet about it and wait for 60 days.

There should be some prompting in between so that there is a reminder to the Minister of Finance that we haven’t received, so that at the elapse of 60 days, you have evidence that there has been no reaction,” he added.

Mr Oulanyah then ruled that the Bill is tabled and sent to Parliament’s Physical Infrastructure Committee for expeditious handling so that it is considered by the House at the end of April.

Earlier, Mr Othieno told parliament that the Bill seeks to regulate the sector were most real estate agents make money through commission for services rendered in sale and purchase of properties. Mr Othieno observed that although Parliament passed the Landlord and Tenants Act in 2019, the real estate agents were left out unregulated.

He says that the absence of the law to govern the operation of the real estate agents predisposes unsuspected sellers and buyers of property to some unscrupulous real estate agents. Mr Othieno says that the Bill will streamline and aid the real estate growth in the country.

This is not the first time an MP is tabling a private members Bill without a certificate of financial implication. Kassanda North MP Patrick Nsamba Oshabe was the first beneficiary of the waive by Parliament in 2019 when he tabled the Local Content Bill seeking to promote Ugandan goods, services and industrialists.

The Constitution requires that the member moving the private member’s bill be afforded reasonable assistance from the department of Government whose area of operation the bill affects and by the office of the Attorney General. However, a number of bills have in the recent past been frustrated.

In 2015, National Resistance Movement (NRM) party MPs blocked a request by the then Buikwe South MP Lulume Bayiga to table a Private Members’ Bill on Presidential Transition. The Bill sought to among others, make provisions for the procedure and ceremony for the assumption of the office of the President.

However, the majority NRM MPs denied Bayiga a chance to present the Bill while the then-deputy Attorney General Fred Ruhindi and then Minister for Lands Daudi Migereko argued that the issue was under discussion within the Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD).

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Also efforts by Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze to present the Alcohol Control Bill were frustrated when she was advised to work with the government to come up with another Bill. The proposed Minimum Wage Bill by Worker’s MP Arinaitwe Rwakajara was also delayed due to the financial implications involved.

In 2015, Ayivu County MP Bernard Atiku’s Children Amendment Bill was passed after a long struggle with the government which at some point tabled a parallel draft with similar contents. Both Bills were sent to the Gender Committee before it was agreed to proceed with Atiku’s Bill.