The government has finally sent money meant for upkeep to Ugandan students trapped in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of Coronavirus outbreak.
A payslip seen by this newspaper indicates that $600,000 (about Shs2.2b) was sent to the Uganda Embassy in Beijing, China, through the BKCHCNBJ, Bank of China (Head Office) on March 2.
However, a statement presented to Parliament last month by Dr. Ruth Jane Aceng the Health Minister on behalf of the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, indicated that the government was in the process of wiring $61,800 (about Shs228b).
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is aware of the challenges the students are facing as regards their welfare. As such it is in the process of wiring $61,800 to support the students in the interim as more evaluation of the situation takes place,” the statement reads in part.
When contacted Mr. Moses Kasujja, the public relations officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs referred us to the Ministry of Health.
Last week, Dr. Aceng said, “That’s a function of the Ministry of Education. The students are there for studies, not health issues, consult with the Ministry of Education”
Mr. Alex Kakooza, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Education, said $600,000 is the amount that was requested and passed by Cabinet as well.
According to the government, 105 Ugandan students are in Wuhan city universities where 65 are known government-sponsored students and 40 are on private sponsorship.
One of the students in Wuhan said they submitted their account details on Friday although they have not received the money yet.
Sources indicate that the money transfer process will take about two days.
Ms. Margret Ntale, a parent with three children in Wuhan, said the government money is no longer an emergency fund.
Another parent who preferred anonymity said: “I have a feeling that they are still finding a way of embezzling the money like you see…they were sent Shs2b and yet we were expecting Shs220m.”
In order to educate the public about Coronavirus that has killed more than 3,000 people in 70 countries, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has directed all broadcasters to disseminate information about coronavirus free of charge until it is declared no threat by the government.
“It is a matter of national interest. We are evoking a section within the license, one of the terms and conditions of license for broadcast is that you are required to carry the content of public interest in form of public service announcement free of charge when called upon,” Mr. Ibrahim Bosa, the UCC spokesperson, said yesterday.