The Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda has come out defended government’s decision to start the distribution of food in Kampala and Wakiso following concerns raised by Members of Parliament.
Dr. Rugunda on Wednesday told Parliament that government would on Saturday April 4, 2020 commence distribution of food relief to vulnerable Ugandans as promised by President Yoweri Museveni and that the distribution of food relief would begin in Kampala and Wakiso district.
However, while debating on the Ministers Statement on Thursday, several legislators wondered why government chose to begin the distribution of food from Kampala and Wakiso leaving out other parts of the country that have equally more vulnerable people affected by the Covid-19 impact.
Other legislators asked for the exercise to start with border districts or those affected by the recent invasion of locusts while others proposed that the exercise begins with those areas where Coronavirus cases have been confirmed.
Others noted that government should have first considered those regions that are struck with too much poverty.
Commenting on the matter, the Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija asked the legislators to understand that every expenditure they propose has an effect on the country’s treasury. He said the national purse is currently under too much pressure since taxes are not collected as they ought to yet the expenditure is high.
Rugunda in response informed MPs that they should understand this exercise has nothing to do with the poverty ratios in the country.
Rugunda said that this food relief is intended to deal with an emergency created by COVID 19 and the measures government has taken which have made it difficult for the normal law abiding citizens to continue doing their work regulations.
“These include boda boda cyclists, and these are unable to do so because they are unable to move because of the regulations and guidelines that have been made,” the PM said.
“That is why government has said that these people in Uganda who are affected by this problem should be assisted, this is yes a national program but which must start from somewhere and Kampala was selected because it has the highest concentration of this category”.
However, the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga was not convinced noting that it’s not only Kampala and Wakiso were there are boda boda cyclists and taxi drivers or traders affected by the lock down noting that this is national issue.
Kadaga noted that this is not the first government program that has started and stopped only in the two districts of Kampala and Wakiso.
She thus ruled that government halts the distribution of food relief until all other parts of the country are catered for.
“We invite you to stop the distribution until you have addressed the national issue; secondly, it seems you are planning to spend without informing us, we have not passed this supplementary but you have gone ahead which is a mistake, address the issue of the whole country not selectively,” Kadaga ruled.