The Senior Assistance Grants for Empowerment provides monthly grants of sh25,000 to older persons aged 65 years and above.
PIC: It started in 2015 as a pilot project in 15 districts, but has now been spread to 47 districts. (File photo | Eddie Ssejjoba)
Pensioners who have been beneficiaries of the Senior Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) will be struck off the beneficiaries list with effect from the beginning of the new financial year 2018/2019, which started Sunday.
The regional technical support coordinator in charge of the four districts of Amuria, Katakwi, Amolatar and Kaberamaido, Gabriel Achia, said that was a new policy revised by the Government.
Achia said those who were receiving the pension would be removed from the list of the SAGE beneficiaries because the source of the money for both SAGE and pension was the same (government's pool).
He asked those who had been informed to pass on the information to others. Achia made the remarks while addressing the district and sub-county leaders of Kaberamaido.
Also present were the representatives of the retired civil servants, some of whom had been beneficiaries of SAGE.
SAGE provides monthly grants of sh25,000 to older persons aged 65 years and above. It started in 2015 as a pilot project in 15 districts, but has now been spread to 47 districts.
The project is implemented through the gender ministry, with support from UKAID and Irish Aid. Achia said Uganda so far has enrolled 151,178 beneficiaries in 47 districts.
The districts of Katakwi, Kaberamaido, Napak, Kyenjojo, Nebbi, Apach, Kole, Zombo, Moroto and Pakwach are funded by development partners.
Achia said another change that will occur will be to delete immediately the beneficiaries who die.
He said families of the deceased will only receive the money that would have entered in a beneficiary's account and nothing more as per the procedures.
Earlier on, the family would be considered to have a four-month payment upon the death of the beneficiary, but most of the next of the kin have been found not to be sincere.
However, some of the pensioners debated over the new policy, saying it was not fair. One of the pensioners, Emmanuel Eyadu, said there had been a lot of anomalies in the payment of SAGE money.
He said there is a group of pensioners and beneficiaries who have never received their money.
Eyadu said if the policy is to change, then some of them who have never benefited should be paid arrears equivalent to what their colleagues got. He also said the new policy would affect some of the retired civil servants who have never received their package and had not started receiving their pension payment.
He said such a group of people needed support from SAGE, until when pension begins to be paid. Eyadu also argued that, there was need to pay pensioners twice, since they played a greater role in serving the country.
Meanwhile, the district councillor representing male senior citizens in Kaberamaido, John Michael Engwaru, said there was no need to pay people twice as retired civil servants.
He said the beneficiaries of SAGE should be those who are vulnerable and are not getting any income.
Florence Akullo who represents female elderly persons on the district council, said if pensioners were to be removed, then the equal number of beneficiaries struck off the list should be replaced with the vulnerable, and elderly who were not benefiting.
However, Achia said there was no more enrolments of new beneficiaries, until the programme is rolled out to cover other districts across the country.
He said there was already a proposal submitted to Parliament of increasing the age of those who should qualify for SAGE from 60 years to between 65 and 85 years.
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