With the likelihood also that new lethal variants may emerge and therefore prolong pandemic pain with lockdown cycles, the government should prudently use the available resources to cushion the impact.
This call was made by Dr. Isaac Shinyekwa, the EPRC head of the international trade and integration depart, at a dialogue to discuss the future of Uganda’s economy amidst the pandemic. It was organized by Makerere University Business School (MUBS).
Shinyekwa said the response to covid-19 has already and should attract adequate resources to mitigate the negative impacts. Uganda has received funds from different sources, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, African Development Bank, and other institutions. The usage of these resources is closely being watched with allegations of corruption and misuse already piling. This should be addressed, Shinyekwa said
“Govt should seriously think about building and strengthening the resilience of vulnerable groups to shocks, including some small businesses,” he said. “There is a need to enhance and expand social protection and safety nets, particularly among the most vulnerable groups to shocks. These need to be targeted.”
Schools are one particular area that could be targeted for help as many have no capacity to resume without help. Vaccine purchases are another area government can put the money to enable resumption of normal business when a sizeable number of the population has been jabbed.
Shinyekwa says going forward, to participate in the external sector and the economy in general, the government should work on laws, enabling Environment for the country to conduct e-business internationally
Informal cross border trade went to almost zero as covid-19 containment measures came into force, he said and this is an area where vulnerable like women earn some money.
On his part, Prof Wasswa Balunywa, the MUBS principal, said a key eye should be given to the education sector.
“The education sector takes care of between 14-16million people in Uganda. All that has collapsed. Many schools have closed and some people have walked away.”