UGANDA:Use data to select Covid-19 relief beneficiaries - SMEs

The Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises (FSME) has urged government to utilise scientific methods when determining beneficiaries of the Covid-19 relief package. 
Speaking during the celebration of the MSME day held under the theme: ‘Key to an inclusive and sustainable recovery’, Mr John Walugembe, the executive director FSME, said it is unfair to derive the beneficiaries of the Covid-19 solely from mobile money transactions.
“The current method of relying on mobile phone transactions is both subjective and open to abuse. A more reliable method should use data from the National household survey of UBOS, the National identification system, bank transactions, mobile money transactions and information from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development as well as feedback from the ground,” he advised. 

Artificial intelligence, Walugembe added, can be employed to mine the above data and provide a more reliable list of beneficiaries. 
Government through the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja at a recent Parliament sitting announced that it will give cash handouts in the Covid-19 relief package as opposed to foodstuffs as was done last year. 
Ms Nabbanja however emphasized that the cash payment system, which will be disbursed through mobile money will nullify people whose mobile money account has ever been credited with Shs500,000.  

This, according to Mr Walugembe rigs the system as there are people who carry out transactions on their phones yet the money might not necessarily belong to them.
The government efforts seek to enable those deemed vulnerable to survive during the 42 days of lockdown.
Citing the detriment that Covid-19 has caused to SMEs, Mr Walugembe also called upon government to revise the recently passed financial budget for 2021/22 to cater to the unprecedented lockdown and its likely effects to the country.

He noted that there is also need to revise lower the Uganda Revenue Authority tax targets for this year as they maybe unattainable lest the Authority puts immense pressure on already struggling businesses to pay taxes. 

SOURCE: THE MONITOR / Christine Kasemiire