Opposition members of parliament have tasked the government to ensure that the money it intends to disburse to vulnerable Ugandans during the Covid-19 lockdown is appropriated through parliament to avoid mismanagement.
Speaking to the media yesterday in Parliament, the leader of opposition, Mathias Mpuuga said that ideally the initial lockdown should have been a stop gap measure to help the country buy time to develop a robust response system and mobilise resources. But this did not happen, he said.
“Unfortunately, the mobilised Covid-19 funds amounting to over Shs11 trillion appropriated by Parliament in Financial Year (FY) 2019/20 and FY2020/21 were grossly mismanaged. The Auditor General noted that there are ghost recipients, funds were diverted, spent on poor quality supplies, expended without supporting receipts and unjustifiably appropriated to individual leaders not institutions,” said Mpuuga.
He noted that most of the funds were geared towards resuscitating the economy rather than boosting preparedness of the health sector which was outstretched by the pandemic.
“Lockdowns without development of a befitting response system worsens the devastating impact of the pandemic as is the case now in Uganda. It is most felt in urban areas than rural areas although the trends now show that we could not reverse the trajectory, the rural areas too are going to suffer given the nature of the systems in the areas,” he said.
He said the situation is not helped by escalating food, fuel, electricity and water prices that are bound to even rise further in the new financial year due to the recently announced tax measures which were unmindful of the deplorable state of economic conditions of the people.
“It is akin to milking an unfed cow locked up in a kraal,” he said, proposing for the amendment of the tax measures such as rental income and excise duty that are to take effect on 1st July 2021 and to temporarily reduce taxes on rent, fuel, and data.
Mpuuga also tasked the president to assent to the NSSF bill to enable savers access midterm payments as a means of sustaining them during and after the pandemic.
“Engage with private facilities with the intention of agreeing on a minimal cost range of Covid-19 treatment and offering incentives such as tax waives to these facilities. As long as government continues to look at these facilities as private, and therefore fail to rethink their approach to doing business, the cost of treatment will remain high, yet we know that the spread of government facilities is very limited and therefore cannot deal with the speed and current spread of the pandemic,” Mpuuga said.