Entebbe, Uganda – United Nations Resident Coordinator (RC) and Designated Official for Security in Uganda, Rosa Malango has called on government to vigorously enforce measures that will help freeze eviction for non- payment of rent and defer utility disconnections.
Speaking during Labour day celebrations held at State house, Entebbe on Friday May 1, Ms. Malanga said the freeze was necessary as evidence had shown that recovery would start three months from the time the lockdown is fully lifted.
“Recent measures by Government to freeze eviction for non- payment of rent and deferred utility disconnections should be vigorously enforced,” said RC Malango.
In Uganda, the necessary containment measures have significantly affected employment particularly in small to medium size enterprises and in the informal sector which employs 85% of Ugandans. Up to 60 percent of informal enterprises have stopped their operations or moved below the poverty level, denying earnings to between 5 and 6 million informal workers most of whom are women and youth.
Ms. Malango recommends that local governments in turn should waive market fees, inspection fees and other charges on informal businesses.
The Resident Coordinator’s comments come at a time the world is faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, a health crisis, with far-reaching implications that have affected operations in almost every sector. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that globally as many as 300 million people could become unemployed. This challenge is an opportunity to save and create millions of jobs and enterprises while protecting vulnerable workers.
According to Malango, the current tax regime on mobile money services in Uganda makes this channel very expensive, making the country lose on the potential gains of deepened use of mobile-enabled digital services.
“We need to encourage virtual working arrangements and delivery of public services such as licensing, revenue clearance, property registration among others. It will be critical to use faster customs clearance modalities for medical and essential supplies known as ‘Green Lanes’ that have been proven to be effective in China and the European Union (EU),” she said.
Since most of those likely to be hit hardest by the crisis are those in the informal sector, the UN Boss said there was need to identify and design a microfinancing credit facility to support micro and small enterprises.
“The government may make available funding for this purpose through Uganda Development Bank (UDB) or Microfinance Support Centre (MSC), but also by working with private financial services providers,” she added.
The coronavirus crisis has also made people realise “as never before” how essential workers keep societies functioning.
In this regard, Ms. Malango commended the ministry of health for effectively managing to contain the spread of the infection among the communities. Despite these successes, she said that the potential of further spread and the socio-economic risks remain uncertain.
“As we go forward, it’s important for businesses and individuals to continue following the public health guidelines as set out by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the World Health Organization (WHO),” she said.
She called on the public to continue observing social distancing and avoid big crowds.
The UN RC sought President Museveni’s support on facilitation of the brand new World Food Programme (WFP) Global humanitarian air service out of Addis Ababa; expediting UN medical evacuations and support to the youth who are working on solutions including mechanisms to facilitate access to water in slums and remote rural areas.
In the same vein, she said the UN looked forward to having president Museveni virtually launch the 1 million SDG solutions by youth across Uganda later in May.
She reiterated UN’s commitment to stand with Uganda through COVID-19 and future challenges.
– Labour Day –
This day is observed as the International Labour Day or International Workers’ Day and it stems from the 19th-century labour movement for worker’s rights, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the US.
Hundreds of women, men and children were dying every year due to poor working conditions and long hours. It was around this time that a federation of labour unions in Chicago declared that “eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labour from and after 1 May 1886”.