Ugandan MPs ordered to return iPads

iPad Pro from Apple.

Ugandan MPs have until April 30 to return iPads issued to them in 2016 or pay a residual fee at the end of their five-year tenure.

In a letter addressed to the legislators, the Clerk to Parliament, Jane Kibirige, said parliament has valued the iPads for disposal depending on the type and year of purchase, reports the Daily Monitor.

Kibirige said MPs who are unable to return the gadget can purchase them at a disposal price set by the House or risk an amount corresponding to the iPad being deducted from their emolument to recover the cost.

“The Parliamentary Commission through the Contracts Committee has approved the disposal of iPads by sale to the current users. The decision was informed by the fact that these iPads have since become part and parcel of the current holder and carry data personal to them,” read the March 31 letter in part.

She added: “The amount corresponding to the iPad you hold shall be deducted from your emolument of May 2021 to recover the cost of the iPad in your possession. However, if you prefer not to pay for the iPad and would like to return it to the commission, you are requested to inform the Clerk to Parliament to that effect in writing by April 30.”

According to the news outlet, MPs who were given iPad Air 2 (2014) to help facilitate their work will pay Sh16,000 (USh550,000) to retain them. Those with Apple iPad 9.9 32Gb (2018) will part with Sh17, 000 (USh600,000) while those who were given Apple iPad 9.7, 128Gb (2018), are to pay Sh20,000 (USh700,000).

Speaking to The East African, Butambala County MP Muwanga Kivumbi said most legislators have no qualms retaining the iPads as they hold sensitive data and have indirectly become their personal property.

“These iPads have become our personal items and they store a lot of our information that we do not wish to lose. The money parliament is asking for is very little and I am sure all MPs can afford it,” said Kivumbi.

Defending the 2013 initiative to improve e-government, then-parliamentary commissioner, Emmanuel Dombo, said the move to give MPs iPads, at a cost of over Sh32 million ($300,000), is a cost-cutting measure.

“These iPads will be the property of individual MPs as a form of facilitation. They can use them to carry out quick research during plenary sessions in order to make meaningful contributions to debates,” said Dombo.

Setting the record straight, Elijah Okupa, a commissioner, noted that because of depreciation, the gadgets will not be handed down to new members.

“They (iPads) would be Parliament property but when someone uses one for five years you don’t expect it to be in shape for use by another legislator for another five years,” said Okupa.