More than Shs1 billion Emyooga money unspent in Gulu City

GULU – Several groups that were approved to benefit from the government’s Emyooga funds are reluctant to withdraw money from their accounts on what they termed unfair conditions.

The groups claim, to qualify for any loan from Emyooga funds, one has to remit 30% of the money being requested before they are given the money. They also claim that the loan repayment period which was agreed to be at one year was also reduced to just four months. Gulu City received a total of Shs 1,120 billion for 1,442 groups from Bardege Layibi division and Laroo Pece division. Each of the two divisions has been allocated Shs 560 million.

Bonny Onen, a performing artist based in Gulu City says it’s very difficult for their association to get the required 30% of the money for them to qualify to get money, saying the arts and performing industry has been closed for close to two years now.

He says besides that, Post Bank where they opened their bank accounts have also continued to deduct money they had initially deposited as a requirement. The bank is deducting Shs 8000 from their account.

George William Opira, the Chairperson of restaurant dealers Bardege Layibi division says that many people have opted to quit the group because of too many demands; that is the 30% required before receiving money. He says that many are also wondering if they can repay the money in four months’ time and yet initially, they were told that they would repay in 1 years’ time.

Beatrice Ajok, the Chairperson Produce dealers’ group of Pawel Pudyek wonders why they are to first pay 30% of money to get money and yet they don’t even know where it goes.

According to Ajok, they have resolved that if they are not clearly told why and where the 30% of the 30 million is going, they will not apply for it to be withdrawn.

“What bothers me is why they want us to first pay 30% of the money we are applying for. And where does the money go? How are we going to benefit from the money deducted?”

“Unless we are told where the 30% money is going, we have resolved not to apply for withdrawal of the Emyooga funds from the bank,” Ajok adds.

Lucky Anywar, the Secretary Bardege-Layibi division Produce Dealers Association, whose group did not receive the government funds says the numerous and confusing forms such as loan appraisal forms, registration forms among others forced the group leadership to move to all the members homes considering the transport challenges.

According to Anywar, what’s more confusing is that each of the members of the group has got to have a business plan which is accompanied by the national identity card before being considered for a loan.

Anywar says that the time frame given to repay the loan is too little and other sectors such as transport which are fully operating, the arts and performing industry affected, they can’t repay the money in the given time period.

Alfred Okwonga, the Gulu City Mayor says the confusion has caused many groups to relax in applying for the funds. According to Okwonga, as a result they still have more than Shs 1 billion unspent with just a handful of groups having withdrawn the money.

Okwonga appeals to the successful groups to apply, withdraw the money and invest as follow-up on adjustments are made by the relevant authorities.

Catherine Owiny, the Commercial Officer Gulu City says the 30% of the money which is to be provided is saved in each of the group accounts. She says that the guidelines the groups are complaining about are meant to protect them from misusing the Emyooga funds, and later face arrest because the funds are revolving and supposed to be used by other groups which were not approved on the first approvals.

According to Owiny, on the reduced loan repayment period, they are still talking to Microfinance Support Center for further considerations.

Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the Member of Parliament for Bardege-Layibi division says, they are going to present the concerns of the groups on the floor of parliament. He says they will also talk to the Microfinance Support Center into readjusting the loan repayment period to the initial 1 year instead of the four months.

While addressing the country on security and human rights on Saturday last week, President Yoweri Museveni said Shs 213 billion of the allocated seed capital of Shs 266 billion had been disbursed to groups which were approved.

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