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By Joel Mugabi

Leader of Opposition in Parliament Mathias Mpuuga has punched holes in Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja’s update on Covid19 response, showing areas where he thinks his National Unity Platform (NUP) party would have done better.

Mpuuga, also the Nyendo-Mukungwe MP, argued that Nabbanja and her boss President Yoweri Museveni’s resurgence plan had a lot of holes that should have been plugged to put Uganda in a better position to deal with the deadly pandemic.

Like veteran opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye has severally castigated President Museveni for lack of a plan to deal with the pandemic, Mpuuga also faulted government for refusing to present a plan to the House for debate which would have been aligned with the budget.

“Despite repeated calls for a costed plan, government was adamant in laying it in Parliament so as to inform budgeting. Parliament that holds powers of the purse is still unaware, on the extent of the plan, save for the disclosed component on health which is projected to cost Shs1.32 trillion,” Mpuuga submitted.

“As a consequence, the national budget for FY 202l/2022 was passed on a presumption of normal times and is bound to underperform. Given that the country is operating under a pandemic cloud, it would be prudent to leverage opportunities arising from the new normal to enhance preventive and curative health interventions as well as social protection.”

He noted that the Museveni plan had its focus on “curative rather than preventive services” as “deduced from the minimal allocation towards surveillance and vaccination which are understood to be effective in deterring the spread of Covid19,” with only Shs2.6bn of the required Shs1.3tn allocated for vaccination.

The vocal opposition MP argued that any ‘responsive and competent’ government should have engaged the House in “determining a logical,comprehensive and legitimate national response plan.”

Had NUP been in power, its Government would have  consolidated savings made across sectors during the lockdown periods such as monies from workshops, travels, government sponsorships in tertiary institutions and capitation grants, and channeled them to critical response interventions in a national response plan.

The opposition party would also have offered tax waivers to essential workers such as slashing PAYE for teachers and health workers, and cut VAT on utilities such as water and electricity to make them affordable

Mpuuga also suggested the halting of the implementation of new projects such as Parish Development Model so that  “allocations be geared towards the implementation of a national response plane.”

The opposition NUP plan also consists of the urgency of negotiating with external partners to defer non-critical projects and commitments so as to free government funding towards pandemic management.

With a lot of funds pumped into the Covid19 response plan, Mpuuga also thinks that such huge monies would only create impact if government managed to “resuscitate decentralization through devolving of powers, authority and public funds from the central government to local governments.”

The opposition has also proposed a stimulus package to private hospitals. “ln a bid to save lives, it is our considered opinion that government extends support to private health facilities in form of incentives such as tax waivers on utilities, deployment of medical personnel, joint procurement of drugs and supply of oxygen.” (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at 





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