The government will today start registering the expanded 16 identified vulnerable groups eligible to receive Shs100,000 Covid-19 relief cash, whose disbursement is expected to start within the next two weeks.
Cabinet on Monday resolved that the registration of beneficiaries will be conducted by officials of Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) and town clerks, an unexplained departure from previous official proclamations that Local Council (LC) I chairpersons would superintend the exercise.
It was deemed that LC officials had better knowledge about their village residents, unlike distanced and detached technocrats, but the government said people deployed by Ubos will fan out in Kampala and other regional cities and municipalities from this morning to collect personal data of to-be recipient.
“The Ministry of Gender and Ubos will guide the cities and municipalities on the number of persons to be selected. Ubos and town clerks will be responsible for aggregating existing data and updating,” Ms Betty Among, the new Gender and Social Development minister, said.
The statistics body already has a repository of information about Uganda’s poor, which number no less than nine million, and field teams to be dispatched today will rapidly collect primary data to validate existing secondary records.
Whereas reliance on mainly secondary data presents reliability problems made worse by plans to sideline LCs, last year’s food distribution resulted in village leaders directing aid to otherwise ineligible relatives, campaign agents and even lovers.
At a press conference at Uganda Media Centre (UMC) yesterday, Minister Amongi said once the survey is completed, the names will be displayed in various villages to ensure people who fall in those categories do not miss out. The list of beneficiaries is expected to be ready by July 4 to ensure the cash is transferred to them “as soon as possible”.
Individuals eligible to get the Covid money, but whose National Identity cards and SIM card registration details vary, will receive pay through Post Bank.
“Post Bank vans shall be able to reach all those who do not have mobile money [accounts]. These will be moving in all cities and municipalities to deliver cash to beneficiaries,” Ms Amongi said.
Relatedly, Information minister Chris Baryomunsi warned that beneficiaries should strictly use this money to buy food and desist from using it for alcohol.
According to the breakdown, beneficiaries are supposed to use 80,000 to buy 20 kilogrammes of maize flour, 10 kilogrammes of beans, one bar of soap and three litres of cooking oil.
The balance of Shs20,000 is to be spent on other items but not alcohol.
“Much as we have broken down how this money should be used, people are free to buy any type of food they want as long as they buy food,” Mr Baryomunsi said.
When asked about how the government is going to sort men with more than two wives, Ms Amongi said the government is just trying to supplement their efforts to feed their families.
She insisted that each household is entitled to Shs100,000.
She, however, said should the government extend the lockdown, no extra money will be provided.
An estimated 500,000 household out of the more than nine million poor Ugandans will each receive Shs100,000 to buy essential household items to last the remaining days of the 42-day lockdown which, unless extended, lapses on July 30.
The government has set aside Shs54.7 billion to be shared among bus, taxi drivers and conductors, loaders, boda boda riders, salon operators, slum dwellers, orphans and vulnerable children.
Other earmarked beneficiaries include baggage carriers, wheelbarrow pushers and touts in taxi and bus terminal, bar attendants, deejays, gym workers and bouncers, waiters, waitresses and cooks, food vendors, teachers at private schools and those not on government payroll, car washers, street vendors and shoe shiners.
Other categories are special hire drivers, artists (musicians, producers, comedians and promoters) are also slated to benefit from the cash.
If each household is given Shs100,000, then 501,197 households would take about Shs51 billion.
Daily Monitor last week broke the news and named the first seven designated groups to receive the Covid cash.
The paper also reported that the government had adopted the cash system to side-step the 2020 scandals in the procurement of maize flour and beans for the vulnerable groups during the first pandemic-induced lockdown.
Addressing journalists yesterday at Uganda Media Council, Ms Amongi said the required funds have already been identified.
“Cabinet at its sitting held on Monday approved the proposal by the National (Covid) Taskforce to transfer cash to vulnerable persons who depend on daily earning, which has been interrupted by the Covid-19 containment measures,” she said in reference to the June 18 lockdown.