Photograph — CFO

In a recent budget presentation at the house of parliament, the Ugandan Finance Ministry offered a host of tax waivers and load incentives for businesses in the country. During the presentation, Matia Kasaija, the Finance Minister said that the county’s $12 billion (Ush45 trillion) budget for the 2020/2021 financial year is targeted at “stimulating the economy to safeguard livelihoods, jobs, businesses and industrial recovery in the wake of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.”

The new plan towards economic recovery seeks to support the agricultural sector for food security and export, make credit accessible to small businesses, give tax holidays to firms, and put money directly into people’s pockets. It also plans to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic on businesses- especially Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), after months of stay-at-home.

This aspect of the budget would be addressing the three critical areas of the Ugandan society. According to Kasaija, they include “the peoples’ welfare, the viability of farms and businesses, and the social eco-system in which they exist.” 

By providing tax relief for SMEs, the government hopes to scale up economic activities as small firms would gain access to necessary funds to pump into their businesses, boosting economic activities and creating more sources of livelihood for Ugandans. This would also help improve governance while maintaining law and order in the state.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 came a global rise in domestic violence. Many African countries have reported an increase in crime, domestic violence, and intimate partner violence with security agents calling for a cease-fire. These crimes were mostly perpetrated by frustrated citizens who lived on daily incomes.

The Ugandan government recorded an increase in gender-based violence (GBV) during the lockdown. According to Frank Tumwebaze, Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, “Some of these cases have already claimed the lives of Ugandans even before COVID-19 does so.” He added that the country recorded 283 cases of violence against children. 

Meanwhile, in Lagos, Nigeria, hundreds of gang members, mostly teenagers, fleeing police made residents believe that coordinated armed robbery attacks were underway. This made residents set up vigilante groups to protect themselves from the supposed armed robbers. 

But as the government began to ease the lockdown and allow for economic activities, Lagos began to see a decline in criminal activities among most young people, who now go about their daily routines. Similarly, as the Ugandan government begins to implement these new financial policies, chances are the country would experience a decline in violence and a resumption in economic activities.

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