KAMPALA – The Federation for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Uganda (SMEs) have recommended that truck drivers get tested in their home countries and be provided with a COVID-19 free certificate.
This concern follows the recent COVID-19 cases confirmed in the country coming from truck drivers from Kenya, Tanzania, and Burundi.
While addressing the media on April 23, 2020, the federation’s Executive Director Mr. John Walugembe revealed that the certificate issued will grant the truck drivers access to Uganda.
Mr Walugembe, however, gave another option of testing the truck drivers at the borders points and making them wait for the results before they proceed to their destinations.
“However, they can undergo a confirmatory test at the border, if they exhibit signs of COVID-19, in this case, they would have to wait for their results before proceeding on their journey,” he said.
On the issue of government ordering employers not to lay off workers, SMEs have been advised not to lay off workers where it is financially possible and if they are to do it, they should terminate them in a humane way with an advance note.
“SMEs should recognize that human resources are their best asset and they should, therefore, do whatever is possible, not to compromise it,” said Walugembe.
He, however, noted that the government needs to recongnise the sudden loss in demand and revenue that SMEs experience will inevitably lead to some job losses.
“However in order to prevent this, the government needs to introduce a comprehensive stimulus package that includes; a loan guarantee scheme with zero interests, a job support scheme of at least 15% of their wage bill, lower tax relief to 16%, pay at least 45% of domestic arrears,” Mr. Walugembe told the media.
He added that the government should give direct cash transfers to vulnerable groups and informal workers who live from hand to mouth to ensure that their livelihoods are not disrupted.
Mr. Walugembe further revealed that the FSME supported UNBS’ halting of the suspension of importation of used garments and clothes.
“As the FSMEs, we are supportive of this ban. Why? The cotton textiles and apparels sector holds great potential in light of Uganda’s industrialization agenda,” he said.
He added that countries that have developed vibrant industrial bases started with this sector and Uganda has an opportunity to establish itself into a hub for textile manufacturing.
“Doing this could transform the 250,000 jobs in the sector into 5,000,000 over a five year period. This sector moreover employs very many people who have a very low level of skills, ” he remarked.