Corona and businesses – Amos Wekesa.

The post of yesterday talking about National budgeting for reasons had a lot of attention and am still being engaged about it up to now.

That post was shared in very many forums so am told, including some circles in the ministry of Finance which is good.

That piece got me engaged with one of the top 10 guys in the Ministry of Finance. My wall has very many types of followers belonging to different interest groups.

Amos, I read your piece and it makes a lot of sense, he starts out. I shared it on our internal forum. We had a lot of interest in the comments section. What a great feedback, he adds.

He actually says, every time I read your pieces, I remember the first time I saw you at the ministry of Finance. He laughs. You were dressed in double Kaki and he just run short of saying you looked suspicious.

You were young and very confident plus you had your facts, I simply had to tell my boss to put in action what you said. You are lucky to have understood how to run a business unlike many of us in these ministries.

You don’t say one thing in our boardrooms and say another outside, reason we have to take you seriously. Of course I don’t go to their boardrooms looking for opportunities for myself, nedda. We have been boarding planes to look for our business.

He says, the bigger challenge for many African countries is both the wrong political and civil service architecture. Unless, we candidly discussion real reforms, we aren’t going anywhere. Planning for that bad architecture is almost impossible. Too many interests.

He thinks that if we had a critical mass of serious local private sector, this agenda of reformation could be possible. A focused private sector can bring out necessary change. He actually explained it well but again, what I know.

Anyways, back to Corona related challenges. A bit of research has been done by AUTO( Association of Uganda Tour Operators) and other entities. 85% of players or businesses face closure by June if government does nothing towards saving businesses in tourism.

Its estimated that at least 700,000 direct jobs will be lost in tourism and hospitality and very many indirectly. For example, how many of you know that Mandela through Javas purchases vegetables worth between ugshs 150m to ugshs 200m per month?

Think about the hundreds of suppliers of different items to Java’s alone. Tourism and hospitality supports directly almost every sector in Uganda. Great lakes safaris and Uganda Lodges had about 100 suppliers of different needs and some simply depended on our survival.

People spending on leisure and hospitality are willing to pay higher prices than those spending money for home consumption. A foreign tourist for example will comfortably spend usd 30 on a meal. A Ugandan couple going out to dinner will also pay higher prices for meals etc.

Government has done a few positive things like restructuring of loans for those who had borrowed, we fought to make sure VAT on hospitality services was scrapped reducing our taxes to about 12 when we start again God knows when.

We thought government would get rid of statutory payments like NSSF, PaYe and withholding tax to save a few jobs but wapi. Even as Great lakes safaris and Uganda Lodges today we make very tough decisions. Businesses depend on decision making bad or good, they must be made.

We for example stopped doing serious business mid February but have managed to pay salaries till this month. With NSSF and PaYe facing us without earning, you have no choice but lay low until things pick up again and that’s not in our control. With statutory payments, one would say, let me raise 30% for a number of months but that’s not happening.

After a year of no business, one will need a startup capital so we must think hard now about the future as we try to keep safe by Gods grace.

We used to say business is as good as its employees but now, it’s as good as its savings or incomes.

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