President Yoweri Museveni has issued a firm assurance to Ugandans that the economy and therefore their businesses will not be hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Evidently staying clear of the issue of stimulus to business, Museveni said while he understood businesses in tourism and hotels are to suffer. Other sectors expected to take a hit are retail and entertainment. The president, who was addressing the nation on the status of fighting COVID-19, however, said he expected the manufacturers to flourish.
Here, he cited makers of sanitizers and soap as an example of one area that will most likely gain. He also said coffee producers could gain as people consume more coffee as a result of being indoors.
Uganda’s economy might come out of this coronavirus crisis as the most resilient, according to forecasts the International Monetary Fund which backs Museveni’s claim that it might be badly hit. The IMF has said Uganda will grow by at least 3.5 per cent this year but if adjusted to the population growth of 3 per cent, it means the economy will expand by less than one per cent in real terms.
Despite Museveni’s optimistic show, at the moment it is also evident that hundreds of businesses have been bruised. Several companies have announced they will either layoff of the majority of their workforce or pay less their normal salaries to stay afloat.
Beer maker Nile Breweries has said it is operated below 50 per cent of its capacity and that even the alcohol it makes now, it is hard to deliver to people’s homes as security interrupts their transporters as not being essential workers.
Other businesses like farmers have been hit too because there are no buyers. Museveni admits there is a problem there but said producers can devise new ways to use their products for.
Bank of Uganda has said the economy will not fully recover until 2022. Some economists have predicted that as many as seventeen million Ugandans might fall below the poverty line.
To support these businesses, National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has announced it will not companies that will delay submissions of their staff contributions to the fund. Also, Uganda Revenue Authority has given companies more time to file their returns.
Bank of Uganda has asked commercial banks to restructure loans to businesses and individuals affected by the virus to give them holidays before they payback.