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MPs question government on SAGE funding short-falls

By Nelson Kiva

Added 27th March 2018 10:35 AM

The woman MP Kyegegwa district, Flavia Kabahenda, tasked government to honour its obligation of a counterpart funding as agreed with donors.

The Members of Parliament (MPs) have questioned government on the persistent short-falls on Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE)  funding.

The MPs on the parliamentary forum on social protection, argued that this was scaring to donors to commit funding to the programme national roll out.

The woman MP Kyegegwa district, Flavia Kabahenda, tasked government to honour its obligation of a counterpart funding as agreed with donors.

SAGE is part of government’s expanded social protection policy interventions aimed at an assured dignified social well fare to older persons.

Paying sh25, 000 per month, is implemented through the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

Partners committed £50m between 2010 and 2015. On its part, government provided support in kind plus additional funding of sh2b in the financial year 2013/2014 and another sh2b in the financial year 2014/2015.

The phase benefited Kyenjojo, Kyegegywa, Kiboga, Kyankwanzi, Apac, Kole, Katakwi, Kaberamaido, Moroto, Napak, Nakapiripirit, Amudat, Nebbi, Zombo and Yumbe.

Under phase II of the programme implementation (2015/2016-2019/2020), government committed sh149b.

However, according to the head of the programme implementing unit, Stephen Kasaija, government was yet to disburse 100%.  

Meeting  with other stake holders including government departments and civil society groups at Hotel Africana in Kampala, the MPs said  DFID and Irish Aid had paid up to sh149b obligation.

The MPs said this resulted into government failing to pay beneficiaries for the last four months.

Kasaija however revealed that they were able to pay beneficiaries arrears of November and December (sh50, 000) three weeks ago.

He did not assure on when January and February would be paid adding that they were waiting on the ministry of finance to provide funds.

Government was to provide sh17.9b in the financial year 2016/2017 but it was able to release only sh13b, while out of sh.29b in 2017/2018, only sh11.3b was given out.

“Recently government tabled a loan request of sh736b and we were told that sh15.3b was for SAGE to among others clear arrears. 

The loan request is being discussed by the committee for national economy, we are waiting,” Kabahenda said.

Jacob Opolot, the chairperson of the forum and Paliisa MP, said discussions were continuing with government on the possibility of the program national roll out.
 
“Last week we met with the Prime Minister and officials from the ministry of finance to further highlight the need for a national roll out.

In the financial year 2015/2016, the districts of Kabong, Abim, Kotido, Koboko, Gulu, Pader, Agago, Lamwo, Amolatar, Paliisa, Amuria, Kween, Namayingo, Mayuge, Kamuli, Kayunga, Nakasongola, Kibaale, Kisoro and Bundibugyo were added.

Kitgum, Nakaseke, Kabale, Bugiri and Amuru were added onto the list in the financial year 2016/2017.

Kasaija said government was yet to add on more districts in anticipation of national roll out.

He said a memo was before cabinet and behind door discussions were ongoing concerning the national roll out.

Kasaija reported that the programme beneficiaries stood at 154,000 beneficiaries as of March and targeted 1.3 million older persons after national roll out.

Meanwhile officials from the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), Equal Opportunities Committee and the Uganda Law Society have asked government to prioritize older person’s issues.

They made the appeal along other representatives from older persons’ organizations and civil society fraternity at Hotel Africana on Monday.

This was during a dialogue on ensuring older person’s wellbeing which was organized and coordinated by Help Age International Uganda.

The director monitoring and inspection UHRC, Ruth Ssekindi, asked government to uniformly accord social protection to older persons.

While Simon Peter Kinobe, from the Uganda Law society revealed that policy interventions to guarantee justice to older person needed emphasis.

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