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Civil society calls for transparency in emergency cash for Covid-19 relief

Government said it would send mobile money to the vulnerable people who are affected by the lockdown to contain the second Covid-19 wave.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The government’s plan to distribute Covid-19 relief aid to Uganda has drawn criticism from different organizations.

The government said it would use mobile money to get money to the vulnerable people who are affected by the lockdown to contain the second Covid-19 wave.

Unlike last year where the government distributed foodstuffs to vulnerable communities especially in Kampala and Wakiso, this time around, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja announced that they are to send money electronically.

The previous program was criticized for not reaching some people who were in the targeted category, while others who did not qualify according to the vulnerability measure, actually got the food.

However, the most critical issue was the quality of the foodstuffs that were supplied to the government for distribution.

Food Rights Alliance Chief Executive Officer, Agnes Kirabo says they welcome the decision of electronically distributing cash, but says that it could be stolen through creating non-existent beneficiaries, commonly known as ghost beneficiaries.

Kirabo says it is understandable that the second wave caught the government unaware, but she said it is to blame because it should have at least drawn an emergency policy just in case another emergency happens.

For the fifth day running since the lockdown measures were put in place, the people have been locked in their homes but have not yet received any help, as the government continues to debate on how to do it.

Kirabo says this should be a lesson for the state to draw up sustainable plans to ensure essential items like food reach people as and when they need it. She also criticizes the enforcers of the measures for blocking peasants from moving because they have no permits for essential workers, yet most of these categories of people are in the agriculture sector, which the President said would remain open.

She argues that some farmers walk for long distances to access their firms.

The senior budget specialist at the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group, Patrick Lubagakene said that the government is continuing to violate the rights of Ugandans as stated in the constitution and the Public Finance Management Act, which provides for 0.5% of the previous financial year’s appropriated budget to be allocated to the emergency fund.

He reasoned that if this was implemented, it would go a long way in reducing supplementary budgeting.

A health rights lawyer, Daudi Kabanda and also the Director of the Center for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT) says that the government has failed to for example establish food reserves.

He says that the advantage of electronic transactions is that they are easier to evaluate, warning that at the end of the program, they will carry out audits of the whole program.

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