President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has urged employers to resist the temptation of laying off workers because of a slump in their businesses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking at State House Entebbe to mark the International Labour Day, Museveni said some of the companies that are laying off workers might not even be all that affected by the global pandemic.
“This business of laying off workers is not a good idea, things are going to improve tomorrow. Why do you lay off? Because they hear Europe is laying off they’re also laying off. Why don’t you say that go home on leave and when we resume I will call you? Why do you use the language of laying off?” Museveni asked.
He added that even workers who are sent home on half or without pay will understand the situation because even they know that the companies have not been earning. Museveni’s remarks come at a time when a number of companies have already written to their employees terminating their employment or significantly reducing their pay.
Museveni said unlike other people, he’s optimistic that the economy is going to rebound although it has been affected in some sectors like tourism. “Tell the workers that if they have been in tourism and it has been affected, why don’t they venture into another thing?” Museveni asked.
Museveni explained that Uganda’s real economy, which is saddled on food, clothing, shelter, medicine, defense, health, infrastructure, education and spirituality, is still intact. “If you have these you can survive and even thrive. If you look at these sectors, there is a lot of money we have been losing to the outside,” Museveni said.
He called upon the country to wake up and stop importing things like shoes, bags, animal feeds, pharmaceutical and industrial sugar among others because they can be made locally. He said his government is going to recapitalize Uganda Development Bank so that local investors are able to get loans to start import substitution.
“The other sectors of the economy will come back after the global problem has ended. I don’t share this pessimism; yes some sectors have suffered but there others that are doing well,” Museveni said.