Re-allocate Emyooga funds to local government accounts systems

GULU – The Resident City Commissioner (RCC) of Gulu, Denis Odongpiny has urged the government to re-allocate Emyooga funds from the Microfinance Support Centre to the Ministry of Finance and release it through the local government accounts system.

The Office of the RCC is charged with the responsibility of monitoring, supervising and evaluating the Emyooga programme.

“While the President has assigned us with the supervision of the project, let’s not forget that we don’t have the mechanisms for accountability and that is where we have concerns,” Odongpiny added.

This same view is held by Gulu City Town Clerk, Moses Otimong, who said that council has no legal mandate to monitor, supervise and account for funds that are not reflected in the national budget.

“I can’t be held responsible to account for funds I am green about; and above all the money doesn’t come in a manner that we can monitor,” Otimong explained.

Otimong further urged the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to restructure Emyooga into the local government system to avoid abuse and corruption in the project.

The ambiguity of the legal frameworks surrounding the Presidential Initiative on Wealth Creation, Emyooga program, has continued to leave questions on accountability mechanisms in the project.

The government has entrusted the Microfinance Support Centre with the implementation of the project which is directly charged with financing the enterprises selected under the project.

The Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development released Shs 260 billion to support the project through the Microfinance Support Centre.

Gulu City Council (GCC) among other implementing local government systems was allocated Shs 1.1 billion which was received on July 06, 2021 to support the 438 different groups within the City.

However, technocrats and top government officials have sighted mistrust, bureaucracy and the unclear legal frameworks as hindrances to the progress of the implementation of the project.

Whereas the Resident District Commissioners (RDC) and the Resident City Commissioners (RCC) are mandated to oversee the implementation of the project, accountability mechanisms have not been established.

Gulu City Council Commercial Officer, Catherine Lanyero who presented the report to the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) raised concerns on lack of legal policy frameworks.

Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the Bardege-Layibi Division Member of Parliament and two other area Members of Parliament in the city met with city authorities over the uncertainties surrounding the project on Wednesday 11th August, 2021.

Lanyero revealed that only 36 of the 438 groups who applied for the different projects and enterprises received funding, adding that the majority failed to meet the conditions to access the loan.

She further explained that, lack of legal frameworks in the governance and the management of the fund has continued to leave unresolved questions on monitoring and accountability of the project.

According to her, each of the 36 groups which received funding initially deposited Shs 10 million to the different banks which is the one-third savings condition established before the fund can be disbursed to the beneficiaries, adding that the condition is within the Cooperative Act.

The disbursement performance report indicates that only Shs 32.4 million have so far been released to the beneficiaries and the performance only stands at nearly 3.7% while billions of shillings remained inaccessible in the banks.

Members of Parliament have also raised concern on who is mandated to benefit from the interests which will accumulate in the banks for the period the beneficiaries are struggling to meet the conditions to access the funds.

While the city authorities have no idea on this concern, the Emyooga Coordinator Acholi sub-region, Caroline Alarokoma alleged that the banks have fixed the money to realize profits, one of the many factors that delayed the groups to access funding though she could not point out the specific banks.

The Area Member of Parliament for Laroo-Pece Division Fr. Charles Onen revealed that the different groups in the city have spent Shs 260 million alone to complete the registration yet they are again required to deposit one third of their savings into the banks before accessing the money which is equivalent to Shs 10 million.

“The condition is unfair and yet the project intends to improve the livelihoods of the vulnerable Ugandans but look at the poverty level in Acholi sub-region and tell me whether the groups will be able to raise that money to become the beneficiaries,” said Fr. Onen Charles.

Gulu City Woman Member of Parliament Betty Aol Ocan, said the approach government initiated for the disbursement was wrong; it calls for immediate review before the resources could get wasted.

“Emyooga shouldn’t be about receiving but how it will impact the lives of people from the region differently from other projects which were marred by corruption,” Aol further explained.

Some of the group members who talked to theCooperator shared that they have been frustrated by the processes set to access the funds and decided to abandon the project.

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