A group of 21 entertainment companies will not benefit from the stimulus package offered by the President to the creatives industry after they were found to be fake.
The package amounting to 5.6 billion Shillings was offered in a presidential pledge last year after complaints by the entertainment sector players over the continued closure when restrictions on other activities were being eased. Entertainment centres have remained closed for more than a year, as a result of a lockdown that was announced to control the spread of coronavirus disease.
But the delays in releasing the money prompted the affected persons to seek an audience with General Salim Saleh who has been camped in Gulu, Northern Uganda, for a solution. The promoters and concert organizers say they have been hardest-hit by the pandemic because they can no longer organize concerts.
They say that by the time of the lockdown, they had spent a lot of money planning for concerts, which were eventually cancelled hence the call on the government for a relief package. The more than 300 operators were then organized into two groups, the Uganda Promoters Network led by Andy Muhumuza, and the Music Promoters and Venue Owners Network, chaired by Abby Muwanguzi (Abitex).
The Spokesperson of the Uganda National Promoters Network, Juma Balunywa says that following the mediation by General Charles Angina on behalf of Salim Saleh, they agreed to merge the two membership organizations into one, the Uganda National Promoters Network.
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There arose, however, another contentious issue, when 21 companies were added onto the list of those to benefit after the verification exercise had been done. It was alleged that the 21 were purposely created by leaders at the Uganda National Cultural Centre to benefit from the cash, but the UNCC says these companies submitted late applications to be added to the list.
The companies include Profwin, which needed an allocation of 53 million Shillings, Jazz Area (81 million Shillings), Salai Sundown (9.8 million Shillings), Nobel Unit entertainment (85 million Shillings), Shroud entertainment events, which is registered thrice with allocation requests of 65 million Shillings, 91 million Shillings and 91.18 million Shillings.
The others are Good Muzik entertainment with a request of 75 million Shillings, Step entertainment Limited which is registered thrice with requests of 84 million Shillings, 72 million Shillings and 98 million Shillings. Don Bazil had requested 42 million Shillings, Liza Pia wanted 32 million Shillings, Gira Business ventures needed 75 million Shillings, Danton Entertainment Ltd with a request of 74 million Shillings, Entertainment events management-85 million Shillings and Lulu Africa Events with 85 million Shillings.
Also on the same list is Urban events which requested 85 million Shillings, Century promoter which wanted 90 million Shillings, and Plus events media which is registered twice with requests of 80 million Shillings and 92.5 million Shillings. Balunywa says that after extensive research, the companies, which were claiming 1.5 billion Shillings in total were found to be registered in names of people who are not known in the industry.
The money was to be released through Operation Wealth Creation. However, it has now been agreed that it will be released after the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development gets it from the Ministry of Finance.
Some of the members were not comfortable with a cash payout, arguing that this would only give a short term relief. A top events organiser, Andrew Mukasa, commonly known as Bajjo, stated that they did not need cash if only the government would allow them to operate their businesses.