URN.According to the ministry of education, UMEME has agreed to give schools a grace period of twelve months in which to pay any outstanding electricity bills. Since the first lockdown, both private and government schools have been lamenting the utility bills and asking the government to intervene.
Government is planning to assist private schools through waivers on the outstanding bills on utilities and internet Data.
During the release of the school calendar ,the education ministry revealed that private schools will be supported though not financially.
Since the first COVID-19 lockdown of 2020 , the private schools proposed to the government to provide them with a stimulus package inorder to recover from the COVID-19 effects before reopening dates.
As of today, the government has not provided this specific financial resource exclusively to the private schools the way that some have been requesting.
However, it has encouraged the private schools to take advantage of the opportunities availed through the other entities of government and the private sector at large.
Dr. Dennis Mugimba ,the spokesperson of the Ministry of Education and Sports said that the government is engaging the National water and Sewerage cooperation-NWSC, UMEME, Uganda Revenue Authority-URA, and financial institutions to waive the outstanding bills until the schools recover.
According to the ministry, UMEME has agreed to give schools a grace period of twelve months to pay any outstanding electricity bills. Since the first lockdown both private and government schools have been complaining about utility bills and asking government to intervene.
Now the government has also engaged the National Water and Sewerage Cooperation to waive the non-V.A.T fees for outstanding bills for schools since March 2020 to time of re-opening. According to the ministry NWSC is looking into the matter.
Government says NWSC is also looking into the possibility of connecting schools to the national water grid at no cost as long as the school is within the coverage area.
Dr. Mugimba says that also URA has waived the twelve percent excise duty on internet Data for all education institutions.
While responding to the package Mike Kironde, the director Janan schools and the Proprietors of Private Educational Institutions Association in Uganda (PPEIAU) says the package is good for the schools but their worry is implementation.
He also says private schools especially those in Kampala are facing a challenge of property tax saying that several schools have accumulated bills in form of property tax and this threatens their safe reopening program hence asking the government to intervene.
Similarly, Hajat Zauja Ndifuna, the director of Mbogo schools embraced the support and encouraged fellow proprietors to take up the offer. She explains that this was part of their proposal to the government and fulfilling it gives them hope as the private schools owners that the government values their role to the sector.
Unlike his colleagues Asadu Kirabira, the chairman National Private Education Institutions says private schools needed the stimulus package more as it was to help them to comprehensively manage the effects of the pandemic prior the reopening.
“What we needed most was the stimulus package, waiving the bills is important to us but we can do better with the stimulus package, ” says Krabira