Secretary to the Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi says Uganda has No Money for Coronavirus outbreak
Government has declared that it has no budget to contain the Coronavirus yet, should it break out. The announcement was made by the Secretary to the Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi during an interface with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament yesterday.
“Coronavirus has just come, so we haven’t yet allocated money,” Muhakanizi said.Tweet
This was during an interface between the Secretary to Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi and PAC after members of the committee asked what precautions and allocated funds were in place to handle any impending disasters.
Muhakanizi said that 15bn has just been allocated to fight the locusts that are currently in neighbouring Kenya and there are no more funds yet.
However, he cautioned the Ministry of Agriculture on accountability for the funds.
“We give you money, your account, and we give you more. Because that’s how we put control on these expenditures,” Muhakanizi said.Tweet
Budget Policy Specialist Civil Society Advocacy Budget Group (CSBAG), Juliet Akello said that Muhakanizi’s statement implies that the government has surrendered Ugandans to fate.
“What government is saying that there’s no money for coronavirus prevention, to me I feel that’s a statement that government is surrendering its citizens to fate,” Akello said.Tweet
Akello adds that the government has poor planning and budgeting intention to implement its projects.
“There must be alternatives, but this is an issue of planning and prioritisation. If the government decides to prioritise what can wait over the welfare of its citizens from which it takes taxes to provide for whatever they are planning to do. That means there are poor planning aTweet
Further, Akello said that the government should realise that Coronavirus is a global disaster, and the budget for emergency funds has to be attended to, to address some of these disasters that come unplanned.
“Because if the government is supposed to serve its citizens, that means they are supposed to be planning for them effectively.”Tweet
Early this week, the Ministry of Health, Finance, and other stakeholders from World Health Organisation (WHO) and also the Prime Minister’s Office sat demanding to be given an emergency fund of 25bn shillings in case coronavirus breaks out in Uganda.
And shortly Muhakanizi came out and said that government has not yet allocated funds for the coronavirus.
Dr Ekwaru Obuku, former President Uganda Medical Association (UMA) in his remarks said that priorities should be given to important areas for instance malaria that has claimed many lives.
“If Uganda is to prioritise the money, we wouldn’t look at a disease which has killed about 356 globally and no one in Uganda, when we know very well for example Malaria has been a problem, 6,000 women are dying annually. So in terms of opportunity costs, if I was Muhakanizi I woTweet
However, Dr Ekwaru says if the coronavirus happens to break out in Uganda, the government cannot fail to combat it as it happened with the Ebola outbreak.
“When it comes to managing such infectious diseases. We conquered Ebola, first it confused us Dr Martin died and many others. But subsequently, we controlled it so well that we exported our expertise to West Africa. For example, we have controlled the Congo Fever and many other oTweet
However, Ekwaru says that at a moment screening at the exit points that are in China is more effective than when one is entering the country.
Ekwaru says importantly no single case in Africa has been reported, and Uganda. So in terms of risk assessment, the risk of the problem of the burden is in China and not in Africa.
“In China, it’s very high, in other regions it’s high. In Africa, I would say it’s moderate or low because it hasn’t happened yet. The spread of this virus across the world is through communication and travel, and we hardly have any direct flight, in fact, we don’t have any direcTweet
Continuing, Ekwaru noted that Coronavirus is one of the many different types of viruses which are affecting people currently, which is a very important problem.
“It’s actually what we call a pandemic. It has crossed to 23 countries from China where it originated, and it has affected about 17,300 people so far in the past 24 hours’ update from the World Health Organisation. You will note that only 356 have died out of those which is lessTweet