Uganda considers aid to all business owners and select categories of people hit hard by the coronavirus.
President of Uganda, Museveni has said that government is going to aid all business owners and categories of people such as the boda- boda riders, salon operators, the bars and night-clubs workers including the artists and musicians who have been hit hard by the deadly coronavirus.
While delivering his State of the Nation Address yesterday, Museveni said that government will modify funds to help support these categories of people affected by the lockdown or possibly encourage them to start up other businesses.
According to the President, a team from Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) has embarked on plans to balance the budget and suggest ways of savings that can save as much as Shs5 trillion from the budget to help in supporting these parties.
“Some of those funds will be modified to deal with the categories of our people that have been affected by the lockdown. Those affected, include the boda-boda riders, the salon operators, the bars people, the night-clubs people, the artists, etc.
“These funds can be used, at low interest, for these categories of our people too, possibly, do other activities. A team from Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) has looked at the budget and suggested ways of savings that can save as much as Shs. 5 trillion from the budget that can do all those efforts mentioned above,” President Museveni said.
Besides, the President said that the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development has proposed many measures, to provide liquidity to all private firms that have been affected by the COVI-19 Lockdown.
Under the measures, the Minister proposed the allowing of corporations including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to delay payment of corporation tax or presumptive tax for taxes due between April and June 2020 and for tourism, manufacturing, horticulture and floriculture to defer until September 2020.
Also, to defer payment of Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) tax by those sectors which are most affected until September 2020, waiver interest on tax arrears, support to water and electricity utilities to ensure the continued supply of these essential services to consumers during the period April to June 2020, expedite payment of outstanding VAT refunds, and payment of domestic arrears for goods and services supplied to Government by the private sector.
Further, the Ministry proposed that for those unable to pay their loans, Government through the Bank of Uganda has already put in the gazette the measures to support businesses; including allowing extension of repayment periods, postponement of loan repayment for a limited period, relaxing the conditions for non-performing loans, reduction of reserve funds commercial banks are required to keep with Bank of Uganda and creating a special liquidity facility to rescue businesses that are not able to meet operational costs due to low demand or reduced production due to COVID-19.
As well, he proposed the capitalisation of Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) with Shs100 billion to enable the Government to invest in strategic areas. Boosting funding to Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) in FY 2020/21 to continue with innovation research and incubation of business start-ups.
Securing funding for the development of Kampala Industrial Business Park at Namanve and power transmission and substations for Mbale, Kapeeka, Bweyogerere, Kasese, Soroti, Luzira, Jinja and Mbarara industrial parks and provision of additional UGX 300 billion immediately to boost agricultural production and productivity for seedlings, fertilizers, irrigation, storage facilities and value addition. The target crops are coffee, cotton, tea, palm oil and other oilseeds, cassava, maize, cocoa and dairy, beef, and fish production.
The President, however, said that all these efforts will be made even much easier when government scientists are paid well at a level comparable to the international standard in a bid to prevent them from being distracted by seeking for money sources elsewhere.
“All these efforts will be much easier when our Government scientists are paid well. They will be able to contribute to the economy without being distracted or having to survive when it comes to the basics of life.
“Our scientists must be paid at a level comparable to international standards, but of course, taking into account our low cost of living. The prices of food here and other products are much cheaper than in other parts of the World. This factor should be taken into account when fixing the salaries of scientists, ” the President said.
Meanwhile, he said the government will not allow landlords to evict tenants on account of not paying rent. He explained that the government is holding discussions with both groups and soon a solution will be found.