INTERVIEW: ‘We are working with Finance Ministry, BoU to support COVID-19 hit sectors’ – Minister Kamukama


State Minister for Economic Monitoring under the Office of the President, Hon. Molly Kamukama

Ms Molly Nawe Kamukama, who had been the President’s Principal Private Secretary since November 2016, was in December 2019 appointed the State Minister for Economic Monitoring under the Office of the President.

In this interview, Ms Kamukama responds to recent criticism on social media and her new roles in government.

QN: What are the roles, duties and responsibilities of the docket of economic monitoring and what areas will you be focusing on?

The Economic monitoring ministry looks at all the sectors of upon which the economy stands. They are primarily four — agriculture, industries or the manufacturing, services and the ICT sector.

We are working on the fifth sector which is oil and gas. At the ministry, we work with the other players or enablers in the economy.

So, when we are looking at monitoring the economy, you look at how all these sectors are functioning, the role of government, what we are doing and not doing.

We also look at how the support services of government are interlinked; the roles of the ministries and then we report to the Head of State, recommending what the government needs to do to support economic growth.

When I came in, I found that actually the ministry was doing quite well. So, our role is to see that everything is working and whatever that is not working is reported and corrected

QN: What will be the government response towards COVID-19 to correct the extent to which it has affected the economy?

ANS: The first thing to do as a country was to worry about life

We should thank the President who has spearheaded this campaign to keep us safe because the most important business for me I think for 2020 is being safe.

Secondly, it is also very clear that most of the sectors, especially the service sector, have been hit very hard.

The tourism, the media, I am sure even hospitals are receiving fewer patients now. It is also true that there is already a loss of jobs in the economy and there is also going to be long term effects in some of the sectors, especially tourism.

Even the manufacturing sector has been affected because it is quite difficult to export and the demand is low. People are not active, so the demand is suppressed.

QN: How can your ministry help in recovering from the effects of the pandemic?

ANS: As a ministry, we are working with all the other sector players like the Ministry of Finance and Bank of Uganda to evaluate the sectors most hit by
COVID-19

We can’t come up with a policy as an entity alone but we are also looking at the economic recovery in a wholistic way. So, Cabinet will sit and come up with interventions to the economy.

The President will tell the country on what role the government is going to do but already we are putting money in Uganda Development Bank because that where manufacturing will access funding

QN: What can Ugandans do individually to recover?

ANS: I implore Ugandans to continue being active in the agricultural sector by cultivating. We need food. I call upon all the village chairpersons and our local leaders and local administration to encourage our people to cultivate food as usual.

We need to remain self-sustaining in terms of food so that on top of COVID-19 effects, we also do not suffer food shortage.

QN: In your previous role as Principal Private Secretary to the President, social media was awash with reports that you amassed a lot of wealth through corruption.

ANS: Those allegations are a distraction that are dangerous to society. It is morally wrong for someone to wake up and malign a person.

It also holds those making the allegations legally liable because if you say so and so is corrupt, sit in a corner and say I have buildings on Dewinton Road, Kampala Road or whichever road they are mentioning, why not report these to the authorities instead of choosing slander through social media?

Good enough the government has invested a lot in the institutions to fight corruption and infrastructure.

One of the things they have invested in is to put the land registry online. So before anybody writes such a thing, if there are claims, for example, the land registry is open. So, crosscheck.

Therefore, it is not true that I acquired all that illegal wealth and then now I am promoted from permanent secretary to a minister.

It is an insult to the appointing authority, it is an insult to me as well and I would call upon the people who are writing those things who, by the way, are known to me first and foremost, to know that it is a crime.

But I also want to warn the perpetrators that these baseless allegations may end up in courts of law. We shall take them on legally because they are committing cybercrime by instigating such allegations on social media.

QN: What could be the source of these allegations?

As I noted, the perpetrators are known. Some are officers of government. One of those circulating these allegations works at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

But all this is emanating from back home in Kazo District. They are trying to
malign me before the people of Kazo. But the people of Kazo know what they
want. So you can’t stop that by telling all these lies.

Qn: Some of these allegations have been drawing in the President.

Yes, they have been drawing in the president by saying this one controls the
president, that when she sneezes, the president coughs and things like that.
I think it should be investigated and I will also call upon the President to
investigate it so that his name is not maligned.

QN: Comment on allegations that you instigated the sacking of the Kazo District Health Officer (DHO), Dr Samuel Tweheyo Kiroha

I have met the DHO of Kazo once when I had taken my part of COVID-19 relief. That was the last I talked to him. Two days later, I saw people on WhatsApp saying I am the one who fired him. I have no idea about his firing and where it stemmed from.

They say it appeared in the cabinet but all the cabinet meetings I have attended there was nothing like that. I have never talked to him even on
phone.

By the way even on phone, I was talking more with the COVID-19 taskforce,
which is rather political, and that is my team. There is a resident district
commissioner (RDC), who is representative of our office.

As a minister, I have no business dealing with technical staff. So I will interest
myself in trying to find out why he was interdicted but the most important
thing is that Kazo as a district must have a medical officer, especially in this
time of COVID-19.

We shall work with the Ministry of Health and the rest to see that there is no such gap to affect people’s health.

QN: You are running for the seat of Woman MP for Kazo District in the
coming elections. What is your agenda for the district?

For Kazo, for me it is a passion! First and foremost, I am glad that I can have
time to go back to my area and also put my small contribution if possible.

It is a district where I was a born, raised, went to school, and where I am married. So it’s an area that is dear to my heart. Of course as a leader, I have a mission and purpose.

There are a lot of things that government can provide. And as part of government, I will try and see that whatever government is supposed to do in the district, it is done properly; that is in terms of development where you have roads, you have power, you have water, education and health.

But there is also a bigger problem which I am more passionate about, which many leaders aren’t talking about yet it is very crucial. The issue of household income is very important to me and it is something that is lacking in our area and generally Uganda.

I will be very much involved in my area so that it is not left behind.

QN: What is your final word?

We are still in COVID-19 time, it is still with us. I call upon Ugandans to wear
masks, wash their hands or sanitise.

Let all of us follow the health guidelines, keep a distance because COVID-19 is still here. The other thing is that I call upon those Ugandans involved in agriculture, please plan and cultivate; we need food as a country so that when countries which are under lockdown like us but cannot do agriculture, we are able to sell to them if we have plenty of harvests.

We have been lucky we have had good rains, so it’s important that we do what we are good at and do it very well.

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