By Ronald Nahabwe
The Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development Hajjat Janat Mukwaya has implored parliament for a supplementary budget of Shs29.6Bn to cater for the elderly under the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) in the financial year 2019/2020.
Minister Mukwaya said that the required funds will help in covering all persons of 80 years and above in the 135 districts of Uganda at Shs142.5Bn each year, which will help them survive until they leave this world.
Mukwaya told the legislator that majority of the people who fall in that age bracket live in abject poverty and others even die before their time due to lack of essential basic needs.
“Development partners have committed shs50 billion leaving a balance of Shs92.5Bn to be covered by the Government. ln 2019/20, Government has provided Shs62.88Bn leaving a shortfall of Shs29.58Bn,” Mukwaya revealed.
The Minister added that the Finance Ministry would, in the financial year 2020/2021, be expected to provide the full budget of Shs142.4Bn to ensure all SAGE beneficiaries are paid for 12 months.
“Given the resources available, the Ministry [Gender] will accordingly pay all the existing 157,000 beneficiaries in the 61 districts for 12 months and the new beneficiary districts for six months from January to June 2020 to avoid creating arrears,” Mukwaya said.
She also told the House that target beneficiaries ought to be registered with National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) and in possession of a valid national identity card, be of the right set age threshold as at the time of registration and not be receiving a pension.
Members of Parliament raised concerns of under-declaration of age by potential beneficiaries of the programme and urged the Ministry to pay keen attention to people’s ages during the enrolment.
“While registering for National IDs, some older persons did not disclose their actual age because they did not know their dates of birth. Eventually, they found themselves out of the 80 year bracket and are now not benefiting,” said Hon. Robert Centenary (FDC, Kasese Municipality).
Bunya South MP, Hon. Robert Ntende added that, “It was found that those who come to complain that they are not getting money yet they registered did not declare their age especially women. The Ministry [Gender] should help us to correct the under-declaration of age”.
Legislators also tasked Government to rein in on unscrupulous individuals who solicit money from older persons to enable them benefit from the social assistance grant.