It is without a doubt public knowledge that the Coronavirus pandemic has sterilised business all over the world, and affected economies in ways unimaginable, and experts warn the world might soon descend into the worst economic depression of all time.
Countries like the United States of America (USA) have come up with economic stimuli to save their economies from sinking with the passing of a $2 Trillion package to support financial institutions, companies and individuals. Germany, the UK, Japan and China have followed suit, including our neighbours Kenya and Rwanda putting in place economic measures.
Uganda has not yet done so, even though the economy has been literally put on a standstill by the outbreak of the virus. The number of imports and exports has greatly reduced, banks recording record transactions, shops closed, transport suspended, and millions of people out of jobs.
Last month, Bank of Uganda (BoU) Governor Prof Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile noted, “On the global scene, risks relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 have lowered the near-term growth outlook. There is considerable uncertainty regarding the duration of the outbreak.”
True to Mutebile’s statement, we do not know how long the outbreak is going to last since infections round the world keep increasing, now standing at one million by press time. Governments have to scratch their heads on how to keep the economy afloat.
On March 19, 2020, Speaker of Parliament set up a task force led by Kasiro Country MP Elijah Okupa to study the economic impact of COVID-19 on Uganda, and they have presented a report from the study today in Parliament.
The report paints a gloomy economic picture of the immediate future, showing lower incomes since millions are no longer working and economic growth. The report has made recommendations that should be followed to keep it afloat.
These are; BoU to reduce lending rates, interest rates, and the amount of money that commercial banks must deposit in BoU.
Others include suspension of Over The Top (OTT) tax and further reducing mobile money taxes as earlier recommended by Kyadondo Est legislator Robert Kyagulanyi last month.
Government has also been asked, in the report, to produce a comprehensive economic stimulus package, which must be debated in the House. This should be supplemented by buying water and air ambulances for emergencies, as well as enhancing payments to the elderly.