Uganda’s battle against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) gets more tasking each day as new cases are discovered by the ministry of health and Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI). As of midday Tueday, Uganda had a total number of 33 COVID-19 cases undergoing treatment and no death recorded.
At the centre of this battle are medical personnel like doctors and nurses, people in security agencies and journalists who ensure that the masses continue to be updated of the latest developments. These people risk contracting the disease while on duty.
And for that matter, Centre for Budget and Tax Policy (CBTP) has suggested to President Yoweri Museveni that government considers to support them in form of financial allowances and insurance cover.
“These are exposed to the risk of contracting the virus and indeed some countries have already registered deaths amongst this population group. But also importantly, their involvement in this state of emergency has disrupted their daily routine which has a bearing on their income," Patric Katabazi, the executive director of CBTP wrote in a letter addressed to President Museveni.
This suggestion is just one of the many measures Katabazi suggested in a 27th March 2020 letter to the president titled 'matching social protection with social distancing'.
In the letter, Katabazi suggests over 16 ‘bold and drastic fiscal measures’ that when implemented can avert the spread of COVID-19 and cushion the population through this period by smoothening consumption patterns among the poor and vulnerable.
Among these measures is the suggestion that the government’s Senior Citizens Grants programme is expanding to include people of 60 years and above and their monthly disbursement is increased from Shs25, 000 to Shs50, 000.
The NGO also wants public servants earning less than Shs500, 000 like teachers, nurses and police officers to be given a top-up of at least Shs100, 000. The same, the NGO says, should be extended to the formal private sector to cater for people who earn less than Shs1m and pay PAYE.
The informal private-sector workers, the NGO suggests, should be supported with an income stimulus to avert income disruptions they are facing, including liaising with the landlords to renegotiate rent repayment. The NGO also suggests the government cut down on its spending by suspending ongoing projects, renegotiate with public debt creditors to reschedule loans repayment.
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