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MPs crying Foul as free lunch at parliament is suspended

Parliament sitting recently

Legislators will not have free lunches in the parliamentary canteen when they resume business today due to a case in court The Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala recently issued an interim order blocking the replacement of Hellenar’s Restaurant as the service provider running the canteen services. Hellenar’s Restaurant dragged Parliament to court alleging that the bidding process for canteen services was flawed.

The Clerk to Parliament, Jane Kibirige, in an interview with Info256, said legislators have been asked to get their lunch from any restaurants or hotels at their own cost. In the parliament canteen, MPs are provided with free lunch as part of their privileges. The meal includes a buffet and soft drink. Kibirige said Parliament will hire temporary canteen service providers, such as Hotel Africana, to provide breakfast for legislators during parliamentary committee proceedings.

“The contract for the former canteen service provider, Hellenar’s Restaurant and Bar Limited (HRB), expired on December 31 last year. Apparently, Parliament does not have any running contract with any service provider until court rules, because parliament is a law-abiding institution.”

An interim order is issued by the courts to prevent an aggrieved party from suffering damages until court makes a ruling on the main suit.

Court will rule on the challenge to the bidding process on January 11. Hellenar’s Restaurant proprietor, Walter Anywar, claims there were irregularities in the procurement process after the expiry of the contract to supply meals to legislators. Anywar is seeking judicial review of the process.

A judicial review is a process where court examines whether an administrative authority has acted in an irregular manner. Sources say Parliament’s budget for lunch for each MP is sh13,500. However, MPs are free to pay for fruits and juice.

In December, court stopped Parliament from terminating the services of Hellenar’s Restaurant and Bar Limited until the main case was heard and a verdict delivered. The interim order, dated December 21, 2018, was issued by Justice Lydia Mugambe of the Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala. On June 13, 2018, the parliamentary commission, headed by the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, announced Romeo Restaurant as the best evaluated bidder.

Romeo Restaurant is to offer MPs a buffet at sh11,500 compared to Hellenar’s sh13,500. Anywar wants court to declare, as illegal, the bidding process in which Romeo Restaurant was declared best bidder over alleged breach of the bidding process.

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