COVID-19 Relief Money Hangs In Balance After  Min. Engola Tells Parliament Process was Rushed

COVID-19 Relief Money Hangs In Balance After Min. Engola Tells Parliament Process was Rushed

By Ivan Mwine

All Ugandans who were eagerly waiting for the Shs100,000 which they were set to receive from the government starting tomorrow, Thursday July 8, 2021 will have to wait for more time.

This comes after the state minister for Gender, Charles Engola, told parliament Wednesday that the process was rushed and that the ministry needs more time to verify the lists of people who will benefit from the relief package.

Engola told Parliament’s COVID-19 Task Force that they need a week to verify the lists of vulnerable persons to receive relief cash and cannot disburse the money by tomorrow as earlier promised, noting that the Ministry needs at least one week to fully verify all the lists of target beneficiaries.

Government, through the Prime Minister Rosemary Nabbanja, announced  that Ugandans living within cities and Kampala Metropolitan area were each to receive Shs100,000 as relief funds to help them buy food during the second COVID-19 lockdown.

Government announced that it had put aside Shs54.7 billion to be shared among 16 vulnerable groups including bus, taxi drivers and conductors, touts, boda boda riders, salon operators, slum dwellers, orphans, and vulnerable children.

Leader of Opposition MP Mathias Mpuuga doesn’t believe in the COVID-19 money project

Others earmarked to benefit from the relief package include baggage carriers, wheelbarrow pushers and touts in taxi and bus terminals, bar attendants, deejays, gym workers and bouncers, waiters, waitresses and cooks, food vendors, teachers at private schools and those not on government payroll, car washers, street vendors and shoe shiners.

According to the breakdown, beneficiaries are supposed to use Shs80,000 to buy 20 kilogrammes of maize flour, 10 kilogrammes of beans, one bar of soap and three litres of cooking oil. The balance of Shs20, 000 would be spent on other essential items.

However, ever since the announcement was made, a lot of controversy has arisen over who will receive money and who will not.

More controversy arose after Ugandans in various districts that are intended to receive the money raised concern that most of the people whose names appear on the lists that were sent to their villages are either not known, not residents of those areas or are deceased.

Following the controversy surrounding the money, opposition legislators want government to halt the planned expenditure of Covid-19 relief funds until the matter is debated in Parliament.

The legislators who addressed the media on Thursday, 01 July 2021 at Parliament, pointed out that such interventions should first be processed through Parliament for proper planning.

Mityana District Woman MP and  Shadow Minister for Information, Hon Joyce Bagala, for instance said that the proposed intervention is welcome but requires extensive debate in regard to the amount.

“This money is not enough; it should be doubled. We also need to ensure transparency of expenditure of such funds,” she said.

Bagala also criticised government for not having a clear plan on vaccination of citizens.

“We would like to ask the Speaker to recall the House to allow us debate interventions by government because we have suggestions to make,” Bagala said.

On her part, Kyotera District Woman Mp, Hon. Fortunate Rose Nantongo proposed consideration of the vulnerable in rural areas as beneficiaries of the Covid-19 relief funds.

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