Kampala Central Member of Parliament Mohammad Nsereko has called on government to suspend monthly payable obligations, utility bills and initiate partial release of National Social Security Fund to contributors to counterbalance the adverse economic effects of COVID-19.
The legislator said President Yoweri Museveni and Ministry of Health officials have so far done a great job but for the guidelines to be effectively implemented, drastic socioeconomic steps needs to be swiftly taken.
“Suspend payment of rent and evictions. This can be done by His Excellence the President signing into law the landlord and tenant bill that parliament passed. This shall in effect cover both commercial and residential tenants. In return land lords can be exempt from payment of rental income tax this financial year,” said Nsereko.
According to the lawmaker, the above measures would save 7 million tenants both commercial and residential level from unnecessary disruption.
He wants the citizens, currently told to stay at home to stop the spread of the deadly virus, to be relived from utility bills for four months.
“Ask all utility companies to suspend charges for all bills like water and power for the next 120 days. In return the debts due to government companies be offset to the equivalent for example power UMEME. As for the National water and sewerage corporation, it’s fully owned by government and should comply,” added Nsereko.
Nsereko also proposed that the Central Bank should suspend all interest payable on all loans just like all governments internationally have started negotiating with their creditors. In effect all interest payments are frozen for 180 days.
“This shall reduce pressure on landlords and business owners, small, medium and big and in return shall keep people on jobs and avert the catastrophe of unemployment. For example with closure of borders over 50,000 people shall lose jobs directly and indirectly,” he said.
He appealed to Government to consider the option of people partially accessing their NSSF savings by between 10 to 30 percent depending on their amounts available.
“This shall enable workers stay home with the comfort that they have an option to access their savings and feed their families. The justification is that if NSSF could lend Bank of Uganda 7 trillion by buying its treasury bills, why not lend or give those that save with it during such a crisis.”
Finally the legislator wants Government to avail rapid testing kits to make work of diagnosis easier and effective.
“Additionally also provide an extra allowance to the medical and health practitioners from ambulance drivers, Nurses, Doctors, Laboratory Assistants etc as a motivation to work harder , save lives but also know that we care that they put their lives on the line first,” he concluded.