Government has been urged to revise the budget and prioritise human capital development programmes so as to revive the economy after the COVID-19 lockdown.

In June 2021, as the country is reeling from the effects of the 2020 Covid-19 induced lockdown, President Yoweri Museveni on June 18 instituted a second lockdown as Uganda battles the second wave of the deadly virus.

This second one, experts say, should have taught government a lesson in terms of giving priority to particular sectors of the economy.

“On the domestic debt refinancing, government must devise mechanisms where the monetary policy instruments support investment to production entities and opportunities in Uganda rather than keep offshore and domestic investors in securities shift from lazy to active investors who set up factories, services and actively participates in expansion of Uganda’s GDP,” Hilda Tumuhe, a research associate at the Uganda Debt Network, says.

The executive director of Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group, Mr Julius Mukunda, says going forward, it is important for the Government to develop policies that are specific, targeting particular areas or sectors that are being heavily affected by COVID-19.

Mukunda says the government should also have a register of businesses, so that specific interventions are prepared, based on data, in line with the effect of the pandemic on their performance.

He adds that the government must come up with a transparent instrument to use in the delivery of interventions, to avoid abuse, both now and post pandemic.

“We also have to become frugal in expenditure, so we can save money for spending on the problems we have now, because we are between a rock and a hard place,” Mukunda says.

According to National Planning Authority executive director Joseph Muvawala, it is hard to talk about quick recovery of the economy, post lockdown, when a big chunk of the budget is locked in debt refinancing and security.

He says after debt refinancing and security, what remains of the budget is not enough, yet it is still met with fiscal indiscipline, such as wastage, misappropriation and low absorption.

“As people who are planning for this country, we are frustrated. There are things we want to spend on, but we don’t have the discretion, because what we have is little and those who spend it are indisciplined,” he said.

Muvawala said one of the most effective ways of dealing with such issues, is ensuring that the spending units that are getting COVID relief money are using it for the right priorities.

Bank of Uganda (BOU) deputy governor Michael Atingi-Ego says the weakened economic activity last year had a profound impact on both the price and financial sector stability, prompting the central bank to put in place measures to revive and maintain stability.

He says to resuscitate the economy post COVID, BOU, will keep the central bank rate (CBR) at the barest minimal, so as to give financial institutions continued access to cheap liquidity.

Atingi-Ego adds that this would keep the interest rate low and encourage uptake of loans from the private sector, while at the same time stimulating economic activity.