Shs.1 Billion Lost During Monitor Closure – Official

Police rough up demostrators protesting the media closure

The Monitor Publications has lost over 1.1 billion shillings in revenues during the 10-day police siege and closure which ended today.

Government announced the re-opening of the Monitor Publications on Thursday but with tough conditions on its operations. Dembe FM and KFM, the sister radio stations also closed on the same day, May 20, were also allowed to resume normal operations. Government said it was searching for a letter written by General David Sejusa, a senior military officer, who alleged a plan by President Yoweri Museveni to eliminate those opposed to his plans to have his son, Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba, succeed him.

Outgoing Internal Affairs Minister Hilary Onek told journalists at a press briefing in Kampala that the newspaper has agreed to a number of conditions including steering clear of sensitive stories among others.

But even before the dust settles, George Rioba, the General Manager in charge of Finance and Operations, is already counting losses. He says the pinch has not only been felt by them but by government which has lost about 180 million shillings in taxes. He explains that the Monitor contributes to government at least 15 million shillings per day and cooperate taxes of up to 2.5 million shillings.

The business people such as vendors and agents, according to Rioba, lost 350 shillings per copy they would have sold during the closure, the loss he estimates at 100 million shillings. He is optimistic that through the public goodwill they shall be able to recoup the losses.

The Monitor Publications made a commitment to its employees on day one of closure and Rioba says this was done possible by the various banks that ensured they pay.

However, freelancers may have to wait a little bit longer before they get paid due to lack of soft files for them.

Outside the Monitor premises in Namuwongo, a Kampala suburb, boda boda cyclists were excited about the opening of the media house. The motorcyclists on a normal day ride journalists to their different destinations as they go about their activities. Ramadhan Kiraga says the Monitor closure had disorganized them at a time they need money the most and he estimates that they each could have lost 100,000 shillings since the closure.

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