KAMPALA – Uganda stimulus packages
The shutdown will definitely lead to a recession in the economy. Central government must have stimulus package. What are those areas of investment by the government that can create the right impact? In my earlier article I referred to storage and distribution of agricultural products especially which are exportable. The committee on economy can identify areas where government can put funds. There are other possible areas.
Reduction in taxation, but this is a double-edged sword, government needs the money from taxation. If it is not collecting the planned amounts it means that it won’t have the money to spend. Reducing taxes may be a contradiction but it must be done. This may affect personal taxes, corporation taxes and even VAT.
Government will have to turn some schools into temporarily hospitals possibly at a county level to handle the crisis in order to isolate potential victims. Government must have a stimulus package for the market vendors. In the developed countries, they are giving money to the unemployed resulting from the shut down. We don’t have such statistics and we can therefore assume the market people were properly registered to be in that category. Through the Central Bank, government must also come up with certain measures these include lowering the bank rate to ensure availability of credit. There may be need for moratorium on interest rate payment by companies that borrowed money since during this period there are no activities.
Courts of law are not functioning during this period, this too has implications for business. The negative effects of ligation should be minimized through enactment of laws on bankruptcy and creditors. Banks and financial institutions should be saved from the effect of companies failing to pay their loans back.
There is a lot that government must do but must first of all assess the impact created by the coronavirus pandemic. Does the country have sufficient scientific capacity to understand the problem, I don’t think so, I bet one hundred shillings if there any scientific lab in the country that is studying this problem and its attendant implications. Is there the political will, yes of course there is.
Unfortunately, some politicians are making it appear like a political issue. We are largely ignorant of the devastating effect of this virus as a result we have not changed our behaviors to reflect on the demands of the crisis. While the President is leading with numerous directives to guide the nation, some politicians and individual citizens are making a mockery of it. Do we have the coercive power to affect the political decision? Yes, we have the police and army are available but the recent incident at the airport were a group of Chinese paid money and left the airport and other people also were able to remove their relatives meant that our coercive power cannot be effective because of corruption.
This reminds me of a story of a wealthy man who built a tall wall and cameras around the house, had fierce dogs and armed security personnel to guard him and his property. But when the thieves came they bribed the armed personnel and got into the house without any effort such is the story of the incidents at the airport.
Do we have the money to implement the measures planned? Of course Not.
Prevention should have been the first step in finding solutions! The quarantine, the self-isolation, the stay at home, the washing of hands are the low hanging fruits of this challenge. Unfortunately, the majority of Ugandans have not realized how devastating the coronavirus can be to individuals, families, organization and indeed the whole country. There is very little change in behavior. Countries like Italy and Spain regret that they did not see the problem early enough that is why their death rate has become so high. We don’t have the resources to detect and test everybody who may have the problem.
Besides some suspects are hiding creating an additional problem to the country. Wherever they are hiding they will infect others. For those who are tested or discovered to be sick, there are not enough facilities not even the drugs to treat them! China had to build hospitals, the United states and UK are building hospitals, they have the money to do this. Uganda has no money to do this. It is said that the coronavirus is a man-made virus, it is reported as a biological weapon. Whatever it is, it’s now reported as a biggest threat to mankind. There was a prediction that it could kill up to 60% of the world population! Given our poor conditions in Uganda if this virus raided in our villages this can be a truism.
Government needs to do more on sensitizing people, the President should be out on public media more often, so are other political leaders, so are religious leaders and our cultural leaders. The coronavirus is scary, it is real and we need to get up and handle it with authority and decisively.
Be safe follow instructions of the Ministry of Health.
Juma Waswa Balunywa, is a scholar in management, leadership and entrepreneurship. He is also an academic administrator, who serves as the Principal of Makerere University Business School, a public institution of higher education in Uganda.