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Ministers Otafiire, Amongi to explain Constitutional amendment

PARLIAMENT: The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Maj Gen (rtd) Kahinda Otafiire and Ms Betty Amongi of Lands, Housing and Urban Development are expected to defend the quest for Constitutional amendment.

Government wants Parliament to amend Article 26 of the Constitution, to create room for compulsory acquisition of land, by both the central and local government.

According to a memo from the Office of the Clerk, the two will appear before the committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs which is handling the bill.

The Committee Chairperson Jacob Oboth-Oboth has since intimated to this reporter that the meeting will among others seek a detailed interface with the ministers before seeking public views.

The bill seeks “to empower Government or a local Government to take possession of the property upon depositing the compensation awarded for the property with court, pending determination by the court of the disputed compensation amount; [and] to give the owner of property or person having any interest in or right over the property the right to access the deposited compensation awarded at any time during the dispute resolution process.”

It also seeks to “empower Parliament to prescribe the time within which disputes arising from the process of compulsory land acquisition shall be determined,” during the dispute resolution process.

Government says the main objective of the bill is to resolve the current problem of delayed implementation of its infrastructure and investment projects due to disputes arising out of the compulsory land acquisition process.

The problem of delays, according to a government statement, has caused significant financial loss amounting to millions of dollars in penalties paid to contractors for redundant machinery at construction or project sites as the courts attempt to resolve the disputes, most of which relate to quantum of compensation.

The committee starts its work today and it has 45 days within which to report to parliament.

©Daily Monitor

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