Districts to Lead Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery

With a reported sharp fall in revenue collections, government is considering using district leaders in mobilizing the population for agro-led initiatives to revive the economy.

Local Government minister, Raphael Magyezi told journalists on Thursday that after nearly two months of a lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the government believes that districts can take the lead in the revival of the economy.

In its plan, Magyezi said, government intends to move away from the distribution of relief food to families distressed by the Covid-19 lockdown, and work with district leaders to distribute seedlings to promote an agro-led economy as well as boost revenue collection at the local government level.

Magyezi spoke to journalists after a closed-door meeting with district leaders at the Uganda Local Governments Association (ULGA) head offices in Kampala.

The meeting was called to discuss the role of local governments in response to the national Covid-19 agenda and the post-Covid-19 plan of action. Magyezi reportedly told the district bosses that government is looking for avenues of boosting revenue collections after Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) reported a fall in its daily collections from Shs 40 billion to Shs 4 billion.

This came up as the district bosses discussed better facilitation to support their Covid-19 activities.

“In the fight against COVID-19, there were resources given to the MPs, money was given to RDCs and money was given to the districts to a tune of Shs165m was the money meant for the taskforce and it is activity-specific; there is nothing specific for the district chairperson in terms of mobilization and other activities,” ULGA president also Napak LC-V chairman, Joseph Lomonyang said.

The district chairpersons hinge their demand for facilitation on their role as the chief monitors of the Covid-19 activities in their respective districts.

“There is concern over timeliness and shortfalls in clarity of roles and responsibilities of the different actors. The usual source of the conflict between the district political leaderships and the RDCs [Resident District Commissioners] rests in the apparent silent disregard of the local government reporting structure and systems which make the present approaches pit the LC-V chairpersons, Chief Administrative officers and the RDCs against each other,” Lomonyang said.

To avoid the conflicts, Magyezi said, the RDCs had been directed to respect the district chairpersons as the political heads. He noted that some of the conflicts were a result of interpersonal relations which sometimes drive the RDCs to overstep their mandate.

Magyezi also said that the Ministry of Local Government is also considering a request by ULGA to improve funding for the border districts.

“We received the concerned raised by especially big districts and those at the borders and we requested them to use money given as we request government to avail more funds,” Magyezi said.

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