COVID-19: Parliament Questions Move to Solicit for Funds from Workers

Parliament has demanded that the National Covid-19 Response Fund immediately withdraws a letter seeking money from salaried employees to help in the fight against corona virus disease.
Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga chairing the plenary session.

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Parliament has demanded that the National COVID-19 Response Fund immediately withdraws a letter seeking money from salaried employees to help in the fight against the Coronavirus disease.

The National COVID-19 Response Fund recently reached out to employers asking for their support to collect at least Shillings 10,000 from each employee in order to enable the fund to raise money for Uganda’s COVID-19 response. The Fund intends to raise at least 15 billion Shillings from employees for the cause.

Emmanuel Katongole, the chairperson of the Uganda National Response Fund to the COVID-19 Pandemic said that the letters were formally written to a number of Chief Executive Officers, after a virtual engagement with selected business leaders, to extend the appeal for a voluntary contribution during the month of May and June.

The request from the COVID-19 Response Fund formally made on May 12, 2020, has since received a backlash from a section of workers who accused the government of being insensitive to employees who are already threatened by job losses and pay cuts, occasioned by the outbreak of the virus.

On Tuesday afternoon, Buhweju County MP Francis Mwijukye raised a matter of national importance questioning the move by the COVID-19 Fund officials to solicit money from an already stressed population.

The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga directed David Bahati, the State Minister of Finance for Planning to explain how the government was taxing workers without the authority of parliament.

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Bahati explained that contribution to the Fund is on a voluntary basis and that the 10,000 Shillings request is just an idea and not a tax. He added that the government was not going to deduct money from salaries of employees without approval.

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However, Bugabula South MP Henry Kibalya questioned the motive behind the letters written to Chief Executive Officers.

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Koboko County MP James Baba said that the  10,000 Shillings request was additional pressure to the workers in the country since some of them have been laid off.

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Speaker Kadaga tasked Bahati to ensure that the letter is withdrawn saying that it was causing problems. The State Minister committed to following up the matter but insisted that the letter did not mean any harm since it was just an appeal.

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Cue out…follow it up.”//

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