Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda has told Parliament that utility companies will still charge for services, except that service providers should exercise restraint in and consider grace periods for defaulters.
Responding to calls by MPs for waivers on utility bills especially during the lockdown period, Rugunda said that such a move would affect the operations of the utility companies.
“Pay the utilities so that they are able to work and offer services; there is no contradiction at all; what we can tell the utility service providers is to relax the enforcement in case people have not paid,” Rugunda said, further telling the lawmakers that National Water and Sewerage Corporation had already informed him that there was danger of closure if customers did not pay their bills.
“The corporation needs to buy chemicals to treat the water before supply. I urge all of us to clear our bills to avoid this would be closure,” Rugunda said.
Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, meanwhile warned against increased consumption, saying the treasury is already constrained and that even when there is the option of borrowing from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, it will not be an everyday affair.
“I will need your wisdom [MPs] on how we will get revenue; we are now not getting taxes and the treasury is getting shortages while we pass expenditures, we should also be mindful where we will get the support,” he said.
Government, he added, will also ensure Shs400b it recently borrowed from private banks is returned in the next financial year to improve cash flow and liquidity in the economy.
“We want to offload money back into the private sector by taking back the money government had borrowed from private banks; in the next budget, Shs400b will be given to push liquidity,” Kasaija said.
Auctioning of properties of loan defaulters, said Kasaija, will be halted while the Covid-19 pandemic persists, and that the interest rates will be capped and frozen.