I have read that the even gas prices for cooking are now raised as well as paraffin.
Uganda Manufacturers' Association (UMA) had in the past week threatened to strike over Government's promise of a waiver and the environment is being depleted at a rate that is not precedent. The obvious effects of lack of power in this sector cannot be over-emphasised. The promise from Government, therefore, to waive taxes on diesel for huge generators is welcome.
However, "when a drowning man is informed of the rescue boat, the momentous joy dies with the next sinking". UMA is not the only one affected. Small kiosks with enterprising youth, salons, beverage joints, food outlets, petrol stations and shops, in the private sector where there may be no forum for mobilisation to strike, are heavily affected. They are not contented with the status quo.
URA estimated a revenue loss of about sh12b as a result of load-shedding. The delay to implement the fore-mentioned and the action by the Electricity Regulatory Agency to increase electricity tariffs (without due consultation) has only facilitated a fiery situation. This should not have arisen had Government acted hastily on its promise.
I also recall a promise to reduce taxes by 45% on solar energy equipment in February 2006, but this pledge has not been fulfilled. Solar equipment is too expensive for any entity to make economic or useful sense. Installation costs are very expensive, although in the long run it is a cheaper alternative. The implementers should act on such presidential directives or in the least explain the reason for the hold-ups to avoid embarrassing the office.
My appeal is that in view of the fact that there is no power for over 24 hours, alternative energy sources like bio-gas should be promoted. Soft loans should be given to hospitals, schools and those that have capacity and are able to sustain production. The costs are by far too heavy for the rural poor who need such energy most. The residue from bio-gas is a good fertiliser.
Government should also reduce or waive taxes on paraffin and gas because their cost is high yet they are meant for primary production and survival. The end-user has no capacity to procure alternative energy sources.
I appeal to UMA and others to stop threatening to strike (this normally hurts them and the populace more), but negotiate and suggest alternatives for all sectors.