The COVID-19 Economic Plan is on How to Steal

Distribution of six kilograms of maize flour and three kilograms of beans to an estimated 1.5 million vulnerable people in Metropolitan Kampala began on Saturday, April 4.

This was after the government announced a total lockdown to curtail the spread of the infectious Coronavirus disease. Vulnerable people who earn their bread daily, risked starvation if no food handouts were extended to them.

Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija walked into Parliament requesting authority to buy food worth Shs 59.4 billion for these people. Procurement had already started even before the authority was obtained.

On April 4, Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda held a ceremony near his office to flag off trucks carrying these food items. Distribution by the military began in Kawempe. A week later, only two divisions in Kampala had been covered.

In fact, by the end of the first week, only 250,000 out of the 1.5 million had been reached by our efficient military machine. Mind you the food being distributed is meant to be eaten during the 14 days of the lockdown. I know it will be extended for at least another 14 days.

That is the performance of the Museveni government. They can’t even distribute six kilograms of maize flour and three kilograms of beans to only 1.5 million people. Allah help our country!

And do you know why? The main focus is on how to steal the biggest percentage of this relief money. Their brains here will be maximized.

Only a mad person can be surprised that some of the officials are behind bars for inflating the prices of beans and maize flour. And that is half the story. The real story will be known after many years to come.

I hope you remember that the initial authorization Minister Kasaija requested for was Shs 284 billion to “mitigate the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic.”

I was not in Parliament on April 8 when it was passed. I am told it had grown to over Shs 300 billion.

Ministry of Health which is at the centre of fighting the disease had been given Shs 62 billion whose usage will also attract investigation. Security requested for Shs 81 billion, Local Government Shs 36 billion, KCCA Shs 30 billion and ICT Shs 14 billion. Parliament revised some of the allocations especially to ICT, KCCA and I think Health.

And in Uganda money meant for anything can be stolen. You remember the two monumental corruption scandals in health. I mean GAVI and Global Fund. The way Museveni people pounced on this money remains historical. One of the convicts Alice Kaboyo is connected to State House.

Mike Mukula, the NRM vice chairman for Eastern Uganda told me the about Shs 250 million for which he was charged had been taken by Museveni’s wife. Mukula told me, he was simply a conduit and destination was Museveni’s residence.

There is nothing that will stop the stealing of COVID 19 money by people who stole AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and vaccine money. Only the percentages can be debated.

The government used the debate on the coronavirus crisis in Parliament to sneak through a questionable nearly one trillion shillings additional budget. This is where the real theft is taking place.

A total of Shs 932 billion was authorized by Parliament on April 8. More than Shs 400 billion went to defense as classified expenditure. Museveni’s residence, State House also took Shs 90 billion meant for classified expenditure. More money was also channeled through the President’s office.

At the end of the day, we are being led to Rugunda’s office where the Shs 59 billion for maize and beans is. Here they have even arrested people and all of them from central and eastern regions. I am not saying they are innocent. I am only reminding you what Wasswa Lule, former deputy IGG once said. “Corruption is licensed for some.” He got sacked after that statement.

In Kenya and elsewhere globally, governments are discussing and parliaments are approving economic stimulus while in Uganda, we are plotting to steal the little there is.

Businesses are crumbling because the economy was not doing well. When the pandemic ends, shops will re-open but hundreds will have no workplaces to return to.

One would expect a sane government to be discussing how to save the smaller businesses that employ millions of Ugandans and resuscitate others that have crumbled. We are busy scheming on how to take advantage of the situation. God save Uganda.

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