The Opposition in Parliament has called for a revision of the 2021-2022 financial year budget to allocate more funds towards state vaccine procurement, ambulances, testing kits, drugs, oxygen, personal protective equipment and remuneration of medical personnel following the COVID-19 crisis that has hit the country.
Addressing the press on Monday 21st June 2021, the Leader of Opposition (LOP) Mathias Mpuuga Nsamba who was flanked by representative from other opposition parties, said that since the Budget had not yet been implemented, it was possible for the executive through a motion revises the said budget.
Mpuuga noted that the country was battling the second COVID-19 wave which was more devastating than the first wave characterised by more infections and deaths countrywide. He was, however, concerned about the social-Economic well being of Ugandans.
“When compared to the lockdown in 2020, the citizens are now in a more vulnerable condition characterised by collapsing businesses, lost employment and subsequently struggling households. They have had their incomes and savings eroded in a bid to reinstate their livelihoods after the past lockdown,” said Mpuuga.
The LOP pointed out that the initial lockdown in 2020 should have been a stop-gap measure to help the country buy time to develop a robust response system and mobilise resources. He, however, said that the mobilised COVID funds amounting to over UGX 11 trillion appropriated by Parliament in 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial year were grossly mismanaged.
“ Lockdowns without the development of befitting response system worsens the devasting 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 bite even harder, given the nature of the systems in the areas,” He added.
The Opposition leaders also called for an amendment of tax measures such as rental income and excise duty that are to take effect on 1st July 2021 to temporarily reduce taxes on rent, fuel, and data and the President to assent to the NSSF bill to enable savers to access midterm payments as a means of sustaining them during and after the pandemic.
Additionally, they also asked the government to engage with private facilities to agree on a minimal cost range of COVID treatment and offering incentives such as tax waives to these facilities and for government to recruit more health workers on a permanent and contract basis to close the human resource gap.
They further applauded the Prime Minister for announcing measures on Covid relief including giving direct cash to vulnerable people who are affected by the second Covid-19 lockdown. They, however, called for accountability, transparency and proper management of the said funds.
“We applaud the approach announced by the Prime Minister yesterday but we caution that this should be properly done because we are coming out of food abuse. Cash, as we know it, is very tempting and we have very weak systems,” said Mpuuga.