With most business on the edge to survive the coronavirus pandemic impact, there is fear that the mortality of smaller and informal enterprises will be wider, leading to massive unemployment.

Speaking on Friday at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) organized virtual meeting to discuss how business can survive the pandemic, Dr Sarah Ssewanyana, the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) Executive Director, said large and medium-sized enterprises are going to survive.

“Bigger businesses are more likely to access/benefit from the government stimulus because they are formal and probably have more connections,” she said.

This is a rarity for the smaller ones which means their closure as a result of covid-19 disruption was much more likely.

She said targeted support for the smaller businesses will go a long way to help them survive.

“Businesses need support to react to changes brought about by the pandemic,” Dr. Ssewanyana said.

Government has announce it was putting at least 1 trillion shillings into the Uganda Development Bank to help businesses recover from the pandemic. Larger business will likely meet the criteria for this money.

Ssewanyana said the support can also come from the tax side. “We are looking at the small businesses that contribute a lot to employment in Uganda. They need tax support. As we give the tax support, it is necessary to have policy coordination.”

She asked the tax body to take note of the growing influence of e-commerce. She said this is an opportunity to tap into and raise taxes. This, she said, does not call for rushing but understanding, staff training to get the best out of it.

She revealed EPRC was carrying a study on the socio-economic impact of covid-19 on businesses but also looking at small businesses run by women. She said the study will into the issue of governance.

On his part, Dr. Fred Muhumuza, a development economist, said the pandemic found the Ugandan economy already with underlying issues which means impact will be much harsher.

He also businesses must follow closely of what is happening in the world. “You may think the USA elections are far away but they may affect you - your tenant may be working for that American-funded project. Think a little bit more comprehensively,” he said.

Francis Kamulegeya, the managing partner of audit firm PWC, said the businesses survival will depend 'the way they embrace change or responsive on the changes in the market'

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