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Government tables Uganda Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2016


Government has tabled a Bill before parliament seeking to remove parliamentary approval of regulations required in implementing the Uganda Communications Act, 2013. The Uganda Communications Act, 2013 was enacted to consolidate and harmonize the Uganda Communications Act and the Electronic Media Act; to dissolve the Uganda Communications Commission and the Broadcasting Council and reconstitute them as one body known as the Uganda Communications Commission.

The Attorney General, Fred Ruhindi, presented the Uganda Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2016 for its first reading during Parliament’s plenary session. The Bill seeks to amend section 93(1) of the Uganda Communications Act, 2013 to remove the requirement for parliamentary approval of regulations made by the Minister under the Act.
The Act grants the Minister powers to make regulations relating to among others: fees payable upon the grant or renewal of a license; the classification or categories of licenses; the use of any communications station, apparatus or license; and anti-competitive practices. In addition, the Minister has powers to make regulations on the retention of records relating to programmes or broadcasts; the obligations of proprietors, producers or broadcaster in respect of public broadcasts; and the regulation of community broadcasting.

In the Memorandum to the Bill, the Minister said that two conflicting provisions were incorporated while enacting the Uganda Communications Act, 2013. In section 93(1), the Act provides that ‘The Minister may, after consultation with the Commission and with the approval of Parliament, by statutory instrument, make regulations for better carrying into effect the provisions of this Act.’ In section 93(3) however, the Act says 3) ‘Regulations made shall be laid before Parliament.’

The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, referred the Bill to the Committee of Parliament

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