Internet shutdown could trip Uganda up on debt repayments
Uganda could default on debt repayments and other international obligations resulting from the internet shutdown that affected over 16 million users.
This is according to Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury Patrick Ochailap.
On 13 January 2021 the Ugandan government shut down the internet and social media platforms on the eve of the presidential and parliamentary elections citing national security concerns.
Five days later internet connectivity was restored after President Yoweri Museveni was declared winner, an outcome still refuted by main opponent Bobi Wine.
Social media platforms remain blocked.
Ochailap warned the country’s Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda that aside from the government defaulting on statutory obligations, the shutdown will lead to substantial revenue and business losses.
He added that this would have a crippling effect on treasury’s operations, financial and the business sectors.
Ochailap also said that banks could not facilitate normal banking transactions and that the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) could not also transmit money to the Consolidated Fund through the normal banking system.
He said: “The shutdown had also crippled government capacity to process salaries, pensions and wages as well as hindering businesses from filing value added tax (VAT) and or remit tax payments.”
The internet shutdown also downed mobile money services.
Meanwhile, amid increasing requests for compensation, MTN Uganda has confirmed that it has started reimbursing subscribers’ data bundles lost during the shutdown.
Rhona Arinaitwe, MTN senior manager corporate communications told the local Daily Monitor newspaper that the compensation is only for those who had valid data bundles during the period of the shutdown.