Parliament has passed a motion urging the government to waive the payment of water and electricity bills as part of its response to people affected by the Covid-19 disruptions.
Masaka Municipality MP, Mathias Mpuuga, moved the motion on Tuesday, June 16, telling the House that because of the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Ugandan economy, it would prudent for government to mitigate some of the socio-economic hardships on the population paying for the utilities to the service providers; National Water and Sewerage Corporation and Umeme.
“I urge the government to consider a waiver of the payment of water and electricity since many citizens have lost jobs due to closure of companies, workers being laid off, loss of earnings because some couldn’t reach their workplaces, rendering them unable to pay for essential services,” Mpuuga said.
Mpuuga said that the measure, which would be in place for six months, would boost the campaign to wash hands with soap and water, which is a critical defence against the spread of Covid-19.
He cited countries that have put in place measures intended to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic.
“The Indonesian government provided extra funding for affordable food programme to help its low-income households; Ghana announced free water for three months and three months tax holiday for its health workers,” he said adding that “I believe that the Government can provide a waiver for utilities by making some payment for the utilities to the company.”
Manjiya MP, John Nambeshe said that the pandemic has had great negative effects on the population but that the heavy rains have helped with the water levels.
“Lake Victoria has experienced an increase in the water levels and there is no excuse from the service providers because the water is enough. This could be an incentive to waive some of these bills, by giving back to the population,” Nambeshe said.
Amudat Woman MP, Rosemary Nauwat said that waiving the payments would help with the Government messages reminding the citizens to frequently wash their hands while Kawempe North’s Abdulatif Ssebaggala reasoned that a waiver on utilities would come in handy with the government’s distribution of food to Covid-19 stressed households.
“We had food relief but many people were not catered for. The waiver for utilities is the right step in the right direction which will help all people because most of them are still financially constrained. Our neighbouring countries have come up with various ways to handle this and Uganda can do this as well,” Ssebaggala said.
Parliament Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, said, “We set up a select committee looking at the effect of Covid-19 on the population and part of the conclusion included waiver of utilities. As government we have an obligation to ensure the supply of clean water to the citizens.”