Finance Minister Decries Economic Effects From Internet Outage

By Our Reporter

Days after internet services were restored in Uganda, the aftermath is being felt in high places.

While the government’s intention to cut its citizenry from sharing to the world the happenings in the just concluded election was meant to clamp down on propaganda and incitement, the leaders forgot that some vital operations depend on the same connection.

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This can best be explained by a letter from the permanent secretary in the ministry of Finance Patrick Ochailap to Uganda’s Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda.

In the letter dated January 18, 2021, Ochailap decries the glaring economic losses among them defaulting on the country’s debt repayments as well as other obligations on the international front.

“The crippling effects of Internet lockdown on Treasury operations, financial sector and business sector will definitely lead to substantial revenue and business losses in the economy, besides government defaulting on statutory obligations,” read part of the letter.

The shutdown meant that banks were unable to run their normal transactions, which by extension affected Uganda Revenue Authority’s (URA’s) processes with the Consolidated Fund.

Ochailap also noted that the internet blackout had affected the operations by parastatals to process salaries and wages for public servants as well as payments for pensioners.

Businesses too were blocked both from filing VAT returns and remitting the actual taxes. The shutdown, which lasted five days affected over 16 million Internet users in Uganda, with the extent of loss both by internet service providers and data subscribers yet to be determined.

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Earlier on, the government had been forced to postpone the date from the January 25, 2021 to February 2 it planned on receiving an Airbus ordered from France for Uganda Airlines.

“We postponed the dates because of some communication technicalities, which were occasioned by the Internet shutdown,” Ministry of Works permanent secretary Waisswa Bageya said.

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