Minister Obua queries Shs 546m released to Dokolo schools

DOKOLO – The Ministry of Education and Sports is questioning the utilization of Shs 546 million released by the government for minor repairs to 75 primary schools in Dokolo district.

The money was channeled for reopening education institutions after the government instituted a two-year lockdown to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

State Minister for Sports, Denis Hamson Obua summoned selected Headteachers, LC3 Chairpersons, district officials and Inspector of schools for a meeting held on 25th February,2022 and raised the red flag over the funds.

This followed a hint by the district Chairperson, James Otto recently that Headteachers remitted 10% of the money sent to their schools to the education department. The education sector has so far received Shs 8.8billion beside money for minor repairs.

The Headteacher of Awiro Primary School, Peter Omara and the Chairperson, School Management Committee (SMC), Kenneth Owiny threw the meeting into shock and disbelief when he revealed the incidences of fraud and corruption.

He claimed that when they (Omara and Owiny) withdrew Shs 6.4 million from DFCU Bank Dokolo branch, they picked 10% of the money and handed it over to Bosco Obia, the Headteacher of Dokolo Primary School and Angom Christine Nancy of Adwoki.

Obia, according to sources, is the Treasurer of Headteachers` welfare and Angom is the Chairperson.

“They told me that the district wants us to return the money,” Omara revealed during a heated meeting chaired by Minister Obua. He reportedly gave Shs 645,000 which was 10% of the money he picked from the bank.

Efforts to get comments from the two Headteachers were unsuccessful since their telephone contacts were off and were fearing to be arrested.

Omara alleges that when they were directed to Osco bookshop where they gave the money, they found a group of five Headteachers in the shop. He could not recall all their names, but he was able to identify Angom and Peter Omara of Alapata.

“I am a saved person, and I cannot run away from the truth because if we try, it will be a curse to our children,” he said.

“They had a list of all schools and the amount each school should ‘vomit,’” he adds. “From there, they called the name of my school (Awiri) and the Headteacher picked Shs 645, 000 from the bag and handed it over to him.”

Though some Head Teachers concealed the fraudulent deals fearing the repercussions, after the meeting, Minister Obua directed the police to open an investigation over the rackets.

“If you were mentioned or participated in the collection of the alleged 10% from schools within Dokolo, he or she should refund the money within 48 hours or should be arrested,” he directs.

He cautioned Headteachers and district officials against ‘salivating’ on the public funds saying whoever is found will be arrested, prosecuted and will face disciplinary action.

The district Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal advised the ministry to extend investigation into the utilization of the Universal Primary Education (UPE) Fund to other schools in the country.

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Amuru market vendors want hawkers and produce dealers’ operations restricted

AMURU – Pabo market vendors in Pabo Town Council, Amuru district want the town council and district authorities to restrict the movement and operation of hawkers and produce dealers.

They say hawkers and produce dealers most times go deep into the community selling their products at relatively cheaper prices and tampering with weighing scales as they buy items like cereals.

Santa Akech, Secretary of the Fish Vendors Association in Pabo market says, the hawkers and produce dealers most times tamper with weighing scales, cheating the local produce dealers and as they buy at a cheaper price.

Akech further says, most hawkers who come from other parts of the country tend to sell their items at a low price, swaying off customers from buying from them who pay rent, taxes, and trading licenses.

“Many of these hawkers don’t pay rent, neither do they pay taxes, yet they are the very people who drop prices of items to sway customers away from us,” Akech explained.

David Ocira, another vendor at Pabo market says, before starting business at the market, one is required to register with market authorities to help in tracing and organizing of the business.

Ocira further says if not regulated, the vendors could turn out to be thieves masquerading as vendors, yet they are only targeting to steal from those who operate at the market.

Already, several cases of theft and burglary have been reported at the market in recent times.

Raphael Onguka Onuka, the Chairperson of Pabo market vendors says, the continued operation of unregistered hawkers and produce dealers costs the town council revenue which implies the incapacity of the town council to provide services to those who pay tax at the market.

Already, the latrine at the market has not been emptied for three months leaving the area engulfed with bad smell and forcing sellers and buyers to use plastic papers to ease themselves before disposing it at a nearby garbage collection point.

“As market vendors, if anyone is not willing to register and abide by the set constitution of the market, they should then be stopped from operating within the town council,” said Onguka.

“We want the hawkers and produce dealers to officially register with us, so we know that they are our members and that the revenue and trading license fees they pay help the authorities in providing services for us in the market. We know for a fact that any area can’t be developed only by its natives,” Onguka said.

“As much as we want Pabo to develop and grow, the local businesses should not be suffocated and cheated by hawkers who don’t pay taxes and sell items at very low prices,” Onguka observed.

Moses Simba Tokuma, the Chairperson Finance, Marketing and Planning, Pabo Town Council says, the concern of the vendors is already being addressed by the town council.

Tokuma also said, registering hawkers and produce dealers would help widen the revenue base but also fight the threat of insecurity in the town council. Since revenue from market dues is one of the major sources of funds.

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AGM: Bushenyi SACCOs continue to perform well despite Covid-19 huddles

BUSHENYI – Whereas most financial institutions are grappling to recover from Covid-19 pandemic, Kyamuhunga Peoples’ SACCO (KYAPS) in Bushenyi district is in the limelight for recording tremendous success during the financial year 2020/21.

This was revealed on Saturday during its 23rd Annual General Meeting (AGM) which was held at Kyamuhunga Catholic Parish main hall located in Bushenyi district.

According to Paul Turyamureeba Kahiigi, the SACCO board Chairman, KYAPS managed to register a profit of Shs 1,666,680,413 in the year 2021.

Kahiigi thanked the board members, and the management for pulling such a tremendous performance during the Covid-19 lockdown, a time when most businesses that contribute to the SACCOs’ liquidity had been halted.

John Bosco Atwijukire, the SACCO’s General Manager says, KYAPS currently desires to increase the external borrowing from Shs 4 billion to Shs 6 billion to boost its liquidity.

“Of course, we have been borrowing around Shs.4 billion but when we held a meeting, members asked us to increase the commercial loans which we shall have to sit and look into; in order to boost our loan performance because this shows that members still need more money to invest and we cannot limit them because this is their SACCO, ours is to guide and show them the good way to go,” Atwijukire said.

Dr Silver Mugisha, the Managing Director, National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) who was the Chief Guest warned of opening multiple branches which increases the cost of business-like paying staff, rent, transport among others.

“It is important to find a delicate balance of how many branches you can open so that you can make services easier for the people. But also, you don’t increase costs excessively to affect the value that members will be expecting at the end of the year,” he emphasized.

He maintained that SACCOs must go digital explaining that digital innovations are a good approach that reduces costs and increases efficiency of institutions.

The NWSC boss who is also a member of KYAPS encouraged the SACCO to venture into product diversification which is important for institutional sustainability.

“Product diversification is conventionally known as a strategy to enter into a new product or product lines, new services or new markets, involving substantially different skills, technology and knowledge. So, the board and management should sit and look at products being offered and think of which other products can be offered.”

He also called upon financial institutions to embrace digital innovations to reduce operational costs.

“You also need to go digital, but it is extremely important to see that the people you serve appreciate its importance because sometimes people are not comfortable with digitalization as some members find it okay when they go and transact physically at the bank,” Dr Mugisha emphasized.

According to Ms Sharon Nahabwe, the Principal Commercial Officer, Bushenyi district who is the former General Manager at Kyamuhunga Peoples’ Cooperative Savings and Credit Society, investing in research and innovation by SACCOs which literally means doing things differently from competitors comes with a competitive advantage and helps to achieve market leadership.

The Bushenyi district Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Ms Jane Asiimwe Muhindo who said that KYAPS clients were thrilled by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s membership in the rural bank hailed KYAPS board and management for running a well-organized institution.

“We have so many cooperatives in Bushenyi but if there could be any transparent SACCO, Kyamuhunga is number one and I will extend this to the President and tell him that being one of its members, his savings do still exist and are secure,” says Muhindo.

KYAPS required legal rights to offer cooperative society services in 2004 and has since grown into a top-notch SACCO in Western Uganda with the capacity to run four branches including Butare (main branch), Katerera, Rutookye and Ishaka branch.

Also, Butuuro SACCO located in Bushenyi district recorded a resilient performance of Shs 542 million net profit in 2021 compared to Shs 227 million in 2020.

This was reported on Saturday during its 14th Annual General Meeting for the financial year (FY 2020/21).

According to Benson Barigye, the Board Chairman’s plan has been underway since 2020 for Butuuro SACCO to transition into a Microfinance Deposit Institution (MDI).

“As a SACCO, we have done what we could, and we believe that to make it more profitable we need to have better prices per share to the members,” Barigye said.

The Chairman adds that crossing to MDI, will expand the institution for the entire community to access financial services.

“With the MDI status, we can have other members of the community not necessarily being shareholders of the SACCO. The idea started two years ago. We presented it in the AGM and members bought the idea but asked the board to do more research,” Barigye emphasized.

However, he said the SACCO is only blocked by the Shs. 5 billion share capital requirement to start operating as MDI.

“We called Bank of Uganda officials in March 2021, and they took us through all the requirements for us to become an MDI and the assessment was that if we can improve on the share capital because we had all the necessary requirements except for the share capital which was Shs 5 billion and at that time we had only Shs 2 billion which we have been working hard to save,” Barigye explained.

The Chairman says the cooperative is not moved by Bank of Uganda’s proposal to increase the share capital requirement from Shs 5 billion to Shs 10 billion for one to run an MDI.

“We are still waiting for the proposal whether to be passed but for us we are determined even if the capital requirement is increased or not, we want to keep increasing our share capital to become a Microfinance Deposit Institution,” Barigye said.

Currently Butuuro SACCO has a total capital of Shs 2.1 billion, total turnover of around Shs1.9 billion and boasts of 11,000 members.

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All Saints University Lango gets two tractors worth Shs 800m

LIRA – The government has donated two tractors to All Saints University- Lango to boost its agricultural training program as they plan to open a Faculty of Agriculture.

The tractors worth Shs 800 Million were offered by the National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADs) under Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) which is headed by Gen. Salim Salah.

Two months ago, during the graduation of more than 300 students at All Saints University, the OWC Chief Coordinator, Saleh through Amolatar woman MP Dr Agnes Apea donated Sh10m and pledged to offer two tractors.

The varsity located at St Augustine Community Center in Lira City has more than 200 students with 22 pursuing certificates in Agriculture.

The university was started in 2009 by Lango Diocese to provide a cheap and affordable higher institution of learning.

The University’s Chancellor who doubles as the Bishop of Lango diocese, Prof Alfred Olwa called upon the administration to use the machinery carefully to support development.

He urges the people in the Lango sub-region to embrace the Parish Development Model (PDM) as one of the programs to eliminate poverty in the households and generate income.

Health Minister, Dr Jane Aceng delivered the tractors to the university administration on 24th February at the University’s new site in Ireda, Boroboro road, Lira City East division.

She applauded All Saints University Lango for engaging in agricultural productivity in line with government’s policy of poverty alleviation and wealth creation strategies.

“I want to thank the All Saints University for introducing agricultural courses which are in line with the government policy of fighting poverty through farming and income generation,” she said.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof Anthony Cula said, the tractors will benefit both the university and the farmers in the Lango sub-region.

He urged the government through the Ministry of Education and Sports to support the university financially since they were badly hit by COVID-19.

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