By Simon Abaho
On Thursday morning, the Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja officiated over the launch of the disbursement exercise for the COVID-19 funds at her office in Kampala, which are expected to be received by 500,000 Ugandans to help them during the lockdown.
“This is the Prime Minister of Uganda. Have you received the money?” Nabbanja asked as she called the first beneficiary of the exercise.
“I have received Shs102, 425 right honourable,” Patrick Oloya, who was beaming with joy said in response.
The Prime Minister randomly sampled five other beneficiaries whose COVID relief cash had been sent to either their Airtel or MTN mobile money accounts as part of the launch of the exercise.
However, a number of them had their phones switched off whereas others, because of network problems, they could not be reached.
Speaking at the function held at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kampala, Nabbanja who was flanked by fellow ministers on the COVID national task force, said she hopes the exercise will move smoothly.
“I believe 50% of Ugandans will receive their money today and others will receive as we go along. We shall tell you when the rest of the Ugandans will get. On behalf of the government as Prime Minister of Uganda, I declare this exercise of COVID relief fund launched,” she said.
The Prime Minister, however, warned that government will later declare when the exercise will be closed.
By Wednesday afternoon, only Entebbe, Kira, and Gulu municipalities had been able to partially finish the process and submit part of the lists of their beneficiaries.
The Ministry of Gender on Wednesday said that whereas some areas are still undertaking validation of the lists, for those that have submitted to the ministry, the beneficiaries will receive their relief starting today.
“This will be a continuous process throughout next week. But we will ensure to reach as many people that need the fund as is.”
The government named bus and taxi drivers plus conductors; baggage carriers, touts, wheelbarrow pushers, traffic guides, and loaders in tax and bus parks, stages, and other areas like Kikuubo.
The minister said that government will also send COVID relief cash to barmen, DJs, barmaids, waiters, waitresses and bouncers, gym and restaurant workers, food vendors in tax, bus parks, and arcades, musicians, comedians, producers, promoters, salon, and massage parlour employees, teachers and support staff in both government and private schools but are not on payroll, car washers, slum dwellers, street vendors, shoe shiners, orphans and vulnerable children.
Over 500,000 households are targeted in this exercise.
Despite the Submission by the State Minister of Gender Col. Charles Engola on Wednesday, who told parliament that the Ministry had decided to extend the proposed Shs100, 000 COVID-19 relief funds to the target beneficiaries because the Ministry officials needed to verify the names of the people on the lists of beneficiaries, Nabbanja insisted that the distribution exercise must go on as planned.
He thus told Parliament that the Ministry needed another week to verify the lists so as to assess the actual number and details of the people to set benefit from the relief package.
She said she expects the process to be smooth since more names will be uploaded into the system as the days go by.
Prime Minister Nabbanja said that the exercise had to commence to save vulnerable Ugandans who are already starving.
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