Gov’t spent 3 billion to distribute Covid-19 Nabbanja Money
The government spent a total of Shs 2.854 billion on administrative costs to dispatch COVID-19 relief cash to vulnerable Ugandans.
The state minister for Finance Henry Musasizi, revealed the figures while appearing before joint parliamentary committees of Public Accounts and the Local Government reviewing the list of beneficiaries of the COVID-19 cash, which was tabled before parliament by Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja last month.
Under the initiative, the government distributed Shs 100,000 to selected people classified as vulnerable during the 42-day lockdown which ended last Friday.
The beneficiaries were identified from groups of people that survive on daily earnings in Kampala, all cities, and Municipalities.
The 501,107 targeted beneficiaries included bus or taxi drivers, conductors, baggage carriers, wheelbarrow pushers, touts, traffic guides, barmen, deejays, barmaids, waiters and bouncers, bar, gym and restaurant workers, boda boda riders, special hire drivers and Uber drivers, salons, massage parlour workers, teachers, and others.
Hon. Musasizi, says that the ministry of Finance had an approved COVID-19 emergency funding amounting to Shs 53.5 billion for which, they requested the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development in a letter dated July 2, 2021, to formally submit a request and a work plan for the interventions to be undertaken.
Musasizi told MPs that out of this budget, a total of Shs 2.854 billion was spent on administrative costs including mobile money transfer costs. A sum of Shs 50.645 billion was transferred to the ministry of Gender account in Post Bank to facilitate direct transfers to the beneficiaries.
Following his submission, Ojara Martin Mapenduzi, the chairperson of the Local Government Accounts committee tasked the minister to avail them with a breakdown of Shs 2.854 billion administrative costs and whether this was cheaper than what the government spent on the distribution of food during the 2020 lockdown.
The same was also raised by Fred Opolot, the Pingire County MP.
Mawokota North MP Hillary Kiyaga also questioned whether the mobile money companies charged the government using the normal rates or they provided a discount. He said that Shs 2.8 billion seems to be a higher cost of the number of transactions.
Meanwhile, Medard Lubega Sseggona, the chairperson of the Public Accounts committee asked Musasizi to explain why the government opted for cash transfers as opposed to food relief and how the ministry of Finance arrived at the figure of Shs 53.5 billion for the beneficiaries.
Musasizi defended the government decision to provide cash instead of food relief saying that the experience with the food distribution exercise last year was not good since in some places there was under delivery, food stolen and that this was more expensive since the targeted beneficiaries for food were less.