By Parliament Press.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has directed the Ministry of Finance to explain the proposed roll out of the counterpart funding to cater for Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE).
“I am very disturbed by what Government is doing. This House passed the supplementary budget and I expect Ministry of Finance to pay the sums of money before the end of this financial year,” Kadaga said.
She directed the Ministry of Finance to pay a total shs39.32 billion under the supplementary budget, to cater for payments for SAGE counterpart funding, land compensations and arrears on food to Uganda Prisons among others.
The Speaker made the remarks during plenary sitting on Tuesday, 19 June 2018, following a concern raised by Hon. Jacob Opolot (Ind., Pallisa County).
Hon. Opolot told the House that failure to release money to cater for SAGE counterpart funding had caused development partners to query Government’s commitment to the cause.
“There have been mixed responses from Ministry of Finance. At one corner they tell you they don’t have money; at another corner Hon. Bahati will tell you to wait and see what comes up,” said Hon. Opolot.
Hon. Jalia Bintu (NRM, Masindi) noted that Parliament agreed that the loan from counterpart funding would be rolled out countrywide to reduce imbalances in distribution of the SAGE fund, which was still lacking.
“Madam Speaker, I was in Masindi last weekend and my people have never received this money for the elderly persons,” said Hon. Bintu.
MPs also raised concern over funding to cater for the Nodding Disease syndrome in affected communities, noting that the money was not reaching the intended beneficiaries, victims and village health teams.
“They have directed districts that received money for nodding syndrome last week to spend the money on allowances and repairing vehicles, before the end of this month,” said Hon. Odonga Otto (FDC, Aruu County).
Hon. Bahati however, explained that Parliament passed the supplementary budget for the Nodding Disease for a particular structure of expenditure.
“We expect that the guidelines from Ministry of Finance will be respected and any accounting officer who diverts from what Parliament approved will be in trouble,” Bahati said.
On money for SAGE, Gender and Culture minister Hon. Peace Mutuuzo said a report for roll out countrywide was presented by the Gender ministry to the Finance ministry, but that she had not received affirmative feedback.
“We are still discussing with Ministry of Finance because they had issues of getting the counterpart funding, and how best to roll out to the country,” Mutuuzo said.
The Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) was introduced as a pilot project in 2010 under the Expanding Social Protection (ESP) programme, specifically targeting labour-constrained individuals and households.