Ghosts delay disbursement of Covid relief funds

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja

Distribution of money to vulnerable Ugandans will delay a little longer after the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) discovered “too many ghosts” listed as beneficiaries.

The government through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development had planned to begin sending at least Shs 100,000 as a relief package to the urban poor whose livelihoods were affected by the second Covid-19 lockdown intended to curb the surge in Covid-19 infections in the country.

But within hours of the rollout of the relief program, ISO informed government that most of the intended beneficiaries were ghosts. For instance, from a list 150,000 beneficiaries in Kampala, the intelligence agency found only 4,000 genuine names which forced the cabinet at its meeting on Monday to suspend the cash distribution to allow ISO time to clean up the lists.

The lists were compiled by town clerks of the recipient cities, municipalities and town councils.

“We have a meeting with the town clerks of Kampala in the afternoon to see how much data we have that we can distribute it either or tomorrow,” Information and National Guidance minister, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi said on Monday.

Baryomunsi downplayed reports that ISO had discovered ghosts in the lists much as he admitted that the lists are being cleaned.

“We are going to look at the list we have, if it has been cleaned, then we can proceed to distribute the money, if there are still some issues, then we can wait until tomorrow,” Baryomunsi said.

The cash handouts are hoped to benefit 501,107 listed in 13 categories namely, bus/taxi drivers and conductors, baggage carriers, wheelbarrow pushers, touts, traffic guides and loaders in the taxi, bus parks and stages and other major commercial centres such as Kikuubo.

Also targeted are barmen, DJs, barmaids, waiters and bouncers, bar gym and restaurant workers, food vendors in bus, taxi parks and arcades, artists including musicians, comedians, producers and promoters, boda boda riders, special hire drivers and Uber drivers, saloons, massage parlour workers, car washers, teachers and support staff in private schools and teachers in government schools not on the government payroll.

The money will be sent on their mobile phones while those without mobile phones will get their money through the Post Bank mobile vans.


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