KAMPALA – The Ministry of ICT and National Guidance has defended it’s Shs3 billion for billboards as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic.
The public has been up in arms over the Ministry’s decision to allocate Shs3b of its Shs14 billion budget towards billboards in the coronavirus fight. The public has questioned whether the billboards are necessary in this era when the country is in lockdown.
But the ICT ministry said that the billboards will be placed near markets to sensitise the vendors who are not observing the Ministry of Health guidelines on containing the coronavirus pandemic.
“The proposal to place billboards next to markets is premised on the fact that they remain open for food items, but vendors and buyers are not observing the ‘social distancing guidelines, in addition to the compromised hygiene,” the April 3, 2020 statement reads in part.
“Thus, the proposal to place billboards at major markets across the country is to remind the public of the technical guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health (MoH). Indeed, billboards are strictly market areas across the country and not anywhere else,” the statement adds.
The Ministry of ICT and National Guidance is to allocate Shs5 to 5 television stations (NBS, NTV, Baba TV, UBC & BBS).
Shs1b is for social media activities.
Government has decided to borrow up to $440m (about Shs1.6 trillion) from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help the economy. Government will borrow $190m from the World Bank (WB) and $250m from the IMF.
“The industry and services sector are being affected by the disease. This is leading to disruption of supplies and loss of jobs,” Finance minister Matia Kasaija told Parliament on Wednesday.
The minister said due to shocks the economy has suffered, the country has revised its growth rate from 6.0 per cent to between 5.2 and 5.7 per cent.
This is the second revision of the economic growth rate from the initial projection of 6.2 per cent contained in the Budget forecasts for 2019/2020. The exchange rate of the dollar to a shilling stood at Shs3,796 by April 2.
In a statement about the economic implications of the pandemic presented last week, the minister said about 780,000 people would be pushed into poverty in the short run while as many as 2,600,000 risked the same fate in the long run.
Mr Kasaija said the loan requirement is premised on the fact that “there will be an additional shortfall in revenue collections of between Shs82.4b and Shs288.3b for the remaining period of the current 2019/2020 financial year and between Shs187.6b and shs350b in the 2020/21 depending on the severity of Covid 19.”