Uganda: Kadaga Halts Tabling of Economic Stimulus Package, Cites Govt Delays

Kampala — The presentation of the stimulus package in which government seeks to tackle the economic impact of the Covid-19 has been pushed to the next session of Parliament after Speaker Rebecca Kadaga rejected it yesterday.

The Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, had requested for altering of the Order Paper for yesterday's plenary sitting to allow Finance minister Matia Kasaija present the stimulus package.

However, Ms Kadaga rejected the statement, saying it required more time because MPs need to discuss it thoroughly.

"The issue of the economic response requires time. We have been waiting for a long time. That can be presented in the fifth session," she said. Parliament's fourth session was closed yesterday just two days before President Museveni gives the State-of-the-Nation Address which marks a new session of the House.

Mr Kasaija has for the last two months not been able to present the economic stimulus after a Parliament's taskforce on Covid-19 presented key issues that need urgent attention as a result of the pandemic's impact .

In an April 2 report to the House, the taskforce proposed about 13 measures that government needed to put in place to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

The measures include lowering or suspending some taxes such as mobile money levy, Over the Top Tax (OTT) and those on essential commodities, reduction of lending rates by Bank of Uganda, and government to provide funds for fuel reserves, among others.

Other recommendations adopted by the House included capitalising the Uganda Development Bank to offer loans at zero interest rates, making budget to reflect the realities of the current situation, providing funds to procure air ambulances and supporting medium and small scale industries from collapsing.

Last week, government technocrats finalised a Shs4.7 trillion stimulus package. It was due to be tabled in Parliament with approval of the Cabinet.

The plan, which seeks to help struggling businesses stay afloat, create jobs and provide tax breaks for struggling companies, is yet to be made public.

Daily Monitor reported last week that some of the measures being planned by government included cheaper loans to small and medium enterprises, tax cuts for sectors badly affected by the pandemic, and defending the shilling to prevent imported inflation.

This stimulus package is hitched on $491.5m (Shs1.9 trillion) loan from the World Bank and another $300 million (Shs1.1 trillion) financing tranche from the same institution to support the budget and pay for the interventions.

The two loans were approved by Parliament yesterday.

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