The Uganda Veterinary Board (UVB) wants powers vested in the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries trimmed in the new Veterinary Practitioners Bill, 2023.
Clause 39 (1) of the Bill gives the minister powers to appoint the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on the recommendation of the Uganda Veterinary Council which will be established once the law comes into effect.
In the same vein, the bill under clause 30 also gives the minister powers to appoint the Council.
Dr. Florence N. Masembe Kasirye, the Secretary of the Board, who was on Wednesday, 05 July 2023 appearing before the Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to present their views, said the bill in its current state gives ‘excessive’ powers to the minister and it would make it difficult for the council to supervise the CEO, who is appointed by the minister.
“UVB proposes that the CEO should be appointed by the council, not the minister as stated in the bill,” Dr. Masembe said.
She said the appointment of the CEO by the council will enable the council to have full powers over the CEO for performance and conduct.
Masembe said their proposal will also be in line with Clause 40(2) of the Bill which states that the CEO shall, in the performance of his or her functions, be subject to the general control and supervision of the chairperson of the Council’ and Clause 41(3) which give the council the power to remove the CEO.
Luuka District Woman Member of Parliament, Hon. Esther Mbayo supported UVB’s proposed amendment saying the minister should only have the prerogative to appoint the Council, but not the CEO.
“The bill is going to cure many challenges that farmers have been facing. However, let the council retain the duties of appointing and supervising the CEO,” she said.
This issue of power excesses was first raised by the Committee Members of Parliament while interfacing with the Minister of State for Agriculture, Hon Fred Bwino on Tuesday, 04 July 2023.
In response, Minister Bwino asked the committee to use their judgment and make amendments if they think a lot of powers have been given to the minister.
Hon. Anthony Esenu (NRM, Kapelebyong County) proposed a new clause that reflects a national character in the composition of the council to cure problems of regional dominance in the appointment of the council members.
UVB was established as a statutory body by the Veterinary Surgeon’s Act Cap. 277 to among others, regulate and manage the veterinary profession including registration and annual licensing of veterinary surgeons and veterinary practitioners.
The Veterinary Practitioners Bill, 2023 seeks to repeal the old law that has been in place since 1958.
The bill seeks to provide an institutional framework for the regulation of veterinary practice by providing for the training, registration, and licensing of veterinary professionals and veterinary para-professionals, among others.