KAMPALA – Youth-led organizations have implored the Government to consider using part of the billions of money donated to the National COVID-19 task force, for financial support to local companies and organizations.
According to the youth leaders, the majority of the young people have been laid off by various companies whose income inflows have been affected by the current lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“The Government should come out and support these organizations not to lay off workers. Let them use some of the money to support these companies, to pay off their workers for a few months,” Gloria Nawanyanga, a Youth leader and HIV advocate said.
Last month, 4,200 companies closed shop over the current lockdown. According to the trade minister Amelia Kyambadde, the companies could not adhere to some standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the government.
While some companies have remained in operation, they have had to lay off many of their employees to reduce operational costs.
President Yoweri Museveni, on Friday, warned such companies to avoid laying off workers and instead find a better alternative such as delaying payment or going without pay for a few months.
On COVID-19 cash donations, the youth who wondered what the money is used for, appealed to the government to ensure proper accountability of the funds.
The youth also implored the government to consider immediate inclusion of the youth leaders and youth-led organizations in the national COVID-19 task force to ensure that the response is holistic.
” While attention is currently focused on those most immediately affected by this situation, there are many indicators that this Pandemic will have long-lasting social, cultural, economic, political and multi-dimensional impacts on the whole of societies including the young people,” Ali Kaviri, the team leader youth equality center, said.
Speaking during a virtual press briefing in Kampala, Kaviri among other youth leaders called upon the government to establish a recovery plan for the country which should entail an extensive development plan including social protection mechanism in the medium and long term to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Youth.
Uganda currently has the youngest population in the East African Region with 78% of the population being under 30 years of age.
The high rate of youth unemployment currently stands at 54%.
According to the youth leaders, this predisposes the youth to a life of redundancy and vulnerability coupled with exploitation.
In the recovery plan for Uganda, the youth want the government to extend financial support to small and medium enterprises especially those employing young people.
” We need to support the SMEs and the informal sector that employs most Ugandans especially the youth to prevent young entrepreneurs from falling back into poverty, bankruptcy, and massive job losses resulting from the prolonged lockdown,” Kaviri said.
The youth also want the government to invest 5% of the ministry of health budget as stand-alone allocation for the establishment of and sustenance of youth corners in all public health facilities at all levels.
They also appealed to the government to improve Uganda’s health system and young people’s access to health services in some places especially in refugee camps and informal settings such as slum communities.
They commended the government especially President Museveni and health minister Jane Aceng, for their leadership in preventing the spread of the Pandemic in Uganda.