BY SAMUEL NABWIISO
KAMPALA, UGANDA- Members of Parliament under the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Social Protection (UPFSP) are dissatisfied that the government poorly releases funds to the elderly people, which act is impacting on the overall Implementation of the Social Assistance Grants Empowerment (SAGE) programme.
“As MPs, we are concerned about the poor release of funds that has negatively affected the overall implementation of programme.
“For example during financial year 2015/2016 only Ushs5.6 billion (62%) out of the shs9 billion that was voted by the parliament was released while in 2016/2017 government only released Ush13.77 billion (79%) out of the Ush17.5 billion voted.
“This resulted into arrears of Ush 3.73 billion in beneficiary payments which remains outstanding in the financial year 2017/2018,” said Jacob Opolot the Chairperson of the forum.
The legislators were on a case study in Kiboga District, about the Implementation SAGE programme.
The SAGE Programme aims at supporting the elderly people with grants under the Senior Citizen Grant (SCG).Under the SCG every elders aged 65years and above from 14 districts across Uganda, receive monthly payments of Ush25000.
The legislators noted that although parliament passes the budget to finance the program, on many occasions it has been cut which makes the implementation of the programme very challenging to local governments.
Opolot added that although government committed its self to support the elderly people in the country through extending financial support of Ush 25000 every month in the piloted districts, its allocations towards the programme is still very small. UPFSP is a platform for MPs of Uganda advocating for SAGE.
In the next financial year 2018/2019 the budget for the sage programme is Ushs32.88 billion but, in Opolot’s view, that amount is still wanting.
Commenting on the report from the Parliamentary Forum, the State Minister for Gender Labour and Social Development Peace Mutuuzo said the government is committed at ensuring that all the voted budget under the programme is released but the challenge relies on the revenue collection by the tax body and delays in the release of funds by the development partners who are co- funding it.
The SAGE programme is being piloted in 14 districts of Amudat, Apac, Kaberamaido, Katakwi, Kiboga, Kole, Kyankwanzi, Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo, Moroto, Nakapiripirit, Napak, Nebbi, Zombo and Yumbe with over 154,000 beneficiaries.