WHY POST-COVID19 RECOVERY PLAN MUST NOT LEAVE BEHIND INFORMAL SECTOR WORKERS
By Sheikh Kassim Kamugisha
The last quarter of 2018 to the end of July 2019 witnessed the head of state traversing the whole country holding radio talk shows and meetings with both Local Council and National Resistance Movement (NRM) party leaders in all 18 sub-regions to rally Ugandans in a wealth creation campaign that would be achieved through the Formation of Myoga/ Etapai/Reiko/Diro/special enterprise groups that would be fully supported by the Government under the Ministry of Finance in the Micro-Finance docket. Thanks to His Excellency, the President for this brilliant Idea.
Almost a year down the road, most communities especially in urban areas have heeded the presidential guidance and formed the famous 17 Myoga /Etapai/Reiko/Diro/ Special enterprise groups in anticipation of the presidential support for wealth creation and middle income status attainment.
For those people whom the Head of state rallied to form the Myoga/Etapai/Reiko/Diro/specialised groups and heeded, Covid 19 Pandemic is a curse that gives birth to a blessing (ekisiraani enzaara-mugisha) because the pandemic directly halted businesses, transport, transaction, and largely all activities in informal sector and the Myoga/Etapai/Reiko/Diro/specialised groups who form the base of the sector with their hand-to-mouth survival approach being heavily hit, and left with no option but to look at government as a saviour through funding these groups as a post Covid19 economic support measure and largely fulfilment of the presidential promise.
These Myoga /Etapai/Reiko/Diro/ specialised groups who engage in labour-intensive activities for survival and payment of landlords both at work and at home, payment of utility bills like water and electricity and school fees for their children have largely eaten their working capital, and are too heavily indebted with bank loans to go back to normal business without government support.
According to the President, these Myoga/Etapai/Reiko/Diro/Enterprise groups in refreshing our minds include; drivers (taxi, bus and special hire drivers), mechanics ( motor vehicle, motorcycle and bicycle mechanics), boda boda riders (motorbikes, tuk tuk and bicycles), welders (welders, blacksmith and painters), fishmongers/ butchers, People with Disabilities (PwDs), vendors, and women in entrepreneurship.
Others are: produce dealers, salon operators, youth leaders, performing artists, carpenters, tailors, restaurant operators and washing bay workers.
These are the basis of Uganda’s informal sector and in the Post-Covid 19 Economic Recovery Plan, their rehabilitation to earlier state will give back up to the informal sector largely. These groups/Saccos if supported by government can offer a borrowing base to the members who will invest back the money in their small businesses and on making profits, they will be able to pay their utility bills sustainably as opposed to government paying utility bills for the next six months only as suggested by some section of the legislators. These informal sector workers will also ably pay their landlords, settle bank loans and sustainably pay school fees for their children while generating income for their families.
Therefore, as Uganda ponders borrowing billions from various International Financial institutions to manage and implement the Post-Covid 19 Economic Recovery Plan, I add my voice in calling upon the President, the Executive and Parliament to quickly focus the discussion and utilisation of the Shs120bn under the docket of Micro Finance in the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to recapitalise and provide liquidity to the informal sector Saccos and the informal groups, for this is more sustainable than temporarily paying utility bills for them.
The Writer is the Kabale Youth Chairman
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