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Gov’t pushes date for Covid-19 Relief Cash to Thursday

Minister of ICT Chris Baryomunsi and Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development Betty Amongi at a media briefing at Uganda Media Centre in Kampala on July 6, 2021. PHOTO/ABUBAKER LUBOWA

Government has pushed further the date to start sending Covid-19 Relief cash to vulnerable groups to Thursday (tomorrow), citing irregularities and slow data upload from town clerks.

In her speech during Sunday’s church service at Namirembe Cathedral, Premier Robinah Nabbanja had promised Ugandans that the relief cash would be sent to their phones starting Tuesday or Wednesday, but this has been pushed further.

While addressing journalists at Uganda Media Center yesterday, Betty Amongi, the MInister for Gender, labour and Socia Development said starting Thursday (tomorrow), Ugandans will start receiving the Covid-19 relief beginning with a total of 21,480 vulnerable people from cities and municipalities.

Each will receive Shs100,000 which will be sent their mobile phone. 

The planned government cash release, however, covers only 4.2 percent of the targeted beneficiaries. Data of 479,627 (95.8 percent) beneficiaries is yet to be verified and uploaded on the system for payment. 

“We held a meeting with Kampala town clerks yesterday [Monday] and they informed us that they were processing their data,” Ms. Amongi said.

She added: “The basis of payment is the availability of data supposed to be received from cities and municipalities. As of today (Tuesday) 2pm, 21,480 names had been uploaded on the system.” 

The Covid-19 cash release will come exactly 21 days after the President imposed a 42-day lockdown to curb the spread of a pandemic that has so far killed more than 1,000 people.

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About three weeks ago, the government promised to send cash relief to a total of 501,107 vulnerable people from selected urban areas.

Ms Amongi said Gulu City and Kira Municipality had uploaded more names of beneficiaries as of yesterday.

The minister also revealed that Kampala City had not yet uploaded their lists of beneficiaries by yesterday due to a few technical hitches encountered so far. 

Before the press conference, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Mr Aggrey Kibenge, told journalists that data for 13,000 people from various cities and municipalities had been loaded at 10 am yesterday.    These include Gulu City, Njeru, Apac, Kapchorwa, Kira, Kotido, Kumi, Mubende and Ntugumo. 

How money will be distributed

Mr Kibenge explained that the funds were going to be deposited from the Bank of Uganda to Post Bank before the planned beneficiaries get their money. Post Bank is expected to disburse the money to the cleared beneficiaries’ mobile phones.  

He said the system will only automatically clear those whose National Identification Numbers (NINs) match with their names and mobile phones and Post Bank will send the money directly. 

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Beneficiaries whose names and mobile phones accounts do not match with their NIN will access the funds from Post Bank using their national IDs. Those without IDS have been advised to go to National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) and get NINs. The registration process takes at least one week. 

Ms. Amongi yesterday said all municipalities and cities are expected to upload the names of their beneficiaries by tomorrow.  “In case by Thursday your data is not 100 percent loaded in the system, we will guide you based on the number left. We shall give you a few days to finalize the balance,” Ms. Amongi said.

ICT Minister Chris Baryomunsi yesterday asked landlords not to evict their tenants during this lockdown, saying the Shs100,000 they are supposed to receive is supposed to cater for food and not for rent.

Mr Kibenge faulted Kampala District officers for using the list of vulnerable people, who received food last year, for this year’s program.

“When we gave them lists from last year’s exercise, their responsibility was to cross-check and update the list. They just went ahead and displayed the list we gave to them and people thought those were the beneficiaries,” Mr Kibenge said.

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