CSOs Ask Gov’t to Review Covid-19 Stimulus Packages

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Civil society Organizations -CSOs and representatives from the private sector demand that the government review the stimulus package instituted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

From April 2020, the government put in place several packages with an objective of supporting the different businesses that were hit hard by the pandemic to keep afloat.

According to the statement released by the CSOs that included SEATINI Uganda, Oxfam, Federation for Small and Medium Enterprises and Uganda Small Scale Industry Association, the stimulus package has not yet reached many of the intended beneficiaries though it is now 13 months since the government issued the packages.

The program Assistant, Women and Economic Justice SEATINI, Joanita Nassuna, says that the government should review and refocus the stimulus packages on re-organizing the long standing production and productivity challenges facing the key actors like farmers, MSMEs among others.

Nassuna explains that the conditions put on the funds in Uganda Development Bank as one of the hosts of the package are only favoring the big investors leaving out the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) who are the majority. 

She says that the interest rate at which UDB is disbursing its loans at 14.5% and not 12% is enough to tell its targeted audience.

She indicates that  government needs to develop a comprehensive COVID-19 stimulus response plan taking into consideration the MSMEs and also put minimum loan sums and interest rates. 

John Walugembe, the Executive Director, Federation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (FSMEs), says that the government needs to establish other associations to deal directly with the MSMEs that were intended to benefit from the stimulus package.

He says that of the 100,000 members under the FSMEs Association across the country none has accessed the money even after applying for it.

Walugembe says that the government needs to establish a special facility consisting of a multi sectoral team to handle the MSMEs as a way of easing access to the fund for them.

The CSOs are also concerned about the 260 billion shillings that was disbursed for the Emyooga fund to provide seed capital to organized special interest groups that included boda boda riders, salon operators, bars, women entrepreneurs among others.

They recommend that the government fast tracks the accessibility of the Emyooga funds which are already disbursed on the SACCO accounts yet not being accessed.

The CSOs also recommend that the Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) fund of 100billion be used in prioritizing investment in zonal common user facilities rather than establishing processing factories.  

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