Uganda: Govt Seeks Additional Shs600b to Fight Covid

Government through the Ministry of Finance is seeking emergency funding of Shs600 billion to mitigate the devastating effects of the second wave of Covid-19.

The Deputy Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Patrick Ocailap, revealed yesterday that the supplementary funds will be obtained through budget cuts from different Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

The government reorganisation and budget cuts for different ministries come just a few weeks after the government read the 2021/22 Financial Year Budget. Some experts questioned the planning capacity of the ministry’s technocrats and Parliament’s failure to ask the right questions during the budget consideration.

“The budget was passed before lockdown. The lockdown was in June, but the budget was passed in May. We didn’t know that this [lockdown and catastrophic effects of Covid-19] was coming,” Mr Ocailap told Daily Monitor when asked why the ministry did not plan for the disaster ahead of time.

He said of the Shs600 billion emergency fund, the health sector will receive Shs206 billion to increase Covid-19 fight while Shs50 billion will go to security to enforce Covid-19 prevention measures and conduct related activities.

The deputy Finance boss also said Shs53.5 billion will be used for Covid-19 relief for vulnerable people who have been adversely affected by the second lockdown. Local governments (Shs53.7b), ICT (8.1b) and Shs228.3b will be reserved as a contingency fund.

Finance ministry information also sindicates that the biggest chunk of money will go to the Ministry of Health (Shs197b), Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (Shs53.5b), Uganda Police Force (Shs19b) and Ministry of Defence and Vetran Affairs (Shs10b).

Other monies will go to the Office of the President (Shs6.9b), 14 regional referral hospitals (Shs575m each), local governments (Shs52b) and Uganda Prisons Services (Shs6.2b).

On the money for Covid-19 relief, Mr Ocailap said: “I am/was commanded to give money and I have given the money for vulnerable people. It is now the work of those who should give the money to identifying the correct people.”

Mr Ocailap said from the money going to local governments, Shs27.8 billion will go to village health teams as government revitalises village Covid-19 taskforces to combat the pandemic, which is penetrating across the country.

Last week, the Health minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, said unlike in the first wave, all districts in the country have registered Covid-19 cases during the second wave, which was announced in May this year.

Up to 1,995 people have so far succumbed to the disease, and a cumulative total of 84,554 infections have been registered in the country since the onset of the pandemic last year, according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Health.

However, according to a July 2 circular by the Finance ministry to all accounting officers, the supplementary for Covid-19 expenditure has been programmed for immediate release upon submission of the detailed allocations by each benefitting entity.

Mr Ocailap said a total of Shs5.6 trillion has been released for Quarter 1 of the 2021/2022 Financial Year. From the money, National Medical Stores will get Shs218 billion to purchase Covid-19 vaccines and essential drugs and medicines.

“In regard to the release to Health, the Quarter 1 release has prioritised the supplementary of Shs206 billion to cater for provision of oxygen (Shs92.9 billion), logistics (Shs67.5 billion), infrastructure which includes beds, Intensive Care Units and High Dependency Units (Shs11.5 billion),” he said.

He added that the other parts of Shs206 billion will go towards staff costs, case management at National and Regional Referral Hospitals, among others.

Currently, there are 1,054 Covid-19 patients admitted in hospitals across the country, according to information from Health Ministry.

Mulago Hospital has received Shs19 billion and the 14 regional referral hospitals will share Shs67 billion.

Mr Ocailap said Shs32.3 billion has also been released for the allowance of health workers.

“In addition, the release [of the money for first Quarter] has catered for the requirements to increase nurses and midwives lunch allowances ranging from Shs2000/Shs3000 to Shs10,000/Shs15,000 based on the salary scale,” he said.

Mr Justus Cherop Kiplangat, the president of Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union, said the money will be very important in boosting the workers as they care for patients amid the pandemic.

More than 2,500 health workers in the country have so far contracted the coronavirus and many have died of the disease as they grapple with shortage of Personal Protective Equipment.


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Author : Monitor

Publish date : 2021-07-07 17:02:40

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