By Mary Karugaba & E K Benj.
According to the finance ministry, the total budget for the Presidential Initiative on Wealth and Job Creation (Emyooga) is sh260b.
In October, Parliament approved sh170b for Emyooga funds as part of the 3.7 trillion supplementary budget, which was passed.
According to the finance ministry, the total budget for the Presidential Initiative on Wealth and Job Creation (Emyooga) is sh260b. So far, sh150b has been released. The initiative has generated excitement around the country, but many people do not know the criteria of accessing the money.
While launching the Emyooga programme in Makindye division, a Kampala suburb, Haruna Kasolo, the state minister for microfinance, asked local leaders to explain what they understood by the term Emyooga and what their expectations were of the project.
Shocking answers were given. Many defined it as money given to Ugandans by President Yoweri Museveni to help them fight poverty. When it came to the responses on what their expectations were, some even said they had come to pick the money.
No wonder the most frequently asked question during the meeting was: When will the money be disbursed? This is the same question almost everywhere.
“We want the money. When are we getting it,” someone shouted from the audience.
At Parliament, MPs on the budget committee complained to planning state minister David Bahati about the slow disbursement of the funds. Committee chairperson Amos Lugoloobi said whereas there has been a lot of publicity about the programme, beneficiaries have not yet received money.
“You are slow with the disbursement. You over-publicised the programme, marketed it so well, all the citizens at the village level know about this programme, but nothing is happening. People are now complaining and have lost patience,” Lugoloobi said.
He said the programme has become an issue during campaigns as many citizens were putting them (aspirants) on pressure to explain where the money is.
Kasolo said disbursement of the money was expected soon as sensitisation about the project was being concluded.
Over 3 million register for Emyooga funds
By Monday (1st December 2020 ) over 3,814,200 million Ugandans have registered to benefit from the Emyooga funds.
The acting executive director of the Microfinance Support Centre (MSC), Petronilla Hellen Masika, told NV yesterday Tuesday that all the individuals are members involved in the Emyooga targeted categories.
Why the initiative?
Masika said all the individuals in these associations have been mobilised and sensitised on the operation and management of the programme.
She added that 190,710 Emyooga parish-based associations have been created and 76,890 of these have been validated.
Validation is aimed at assessing the existence, legal status and leadership structures of groups to minimise risks of funding non-existent and ghost groups. The number of registered associations is set to increase since many of them are in advanced stages of the registration process.
Masika said the list of SACCOS was sent to MSC by resident district commissioners (RDCs). By policy, the programme is being co-ordinated by RDCs.
However, she noted that only 45 of the 146 districts have so far sent in lists. Those verified, Masika said, have already received funds. MSC has released over sh20b to over 660 Emyooga SACCOS.
There are 146 districts and 353 constituencies in Uganda.
Apart from Kampala and Wakiso districts which are still being mobilised, each constituency was allocated sh560m and each association sh30m. The ones for leaders will receive sh50m each.
Cases of bribery
Masika said the challenge is the delay in submission of required documents by district commercial officers for registration of SACCOS.
“Surprisingly, some district community development officers are de-campaigning the programme.
“They keep saying people will misuse the funds.
“We noted that some district officials are taking bribes from associations before registering them,” she said.
However, Masika said they are working with security organs to arrest anyone found taking bribes from associations.
She also noted that there has been an upsurge in savings among associations across the country, in line with objectives of the Emyooga initiative.
Masika said during validation, one of the core activities is to confirm the existence of beneficiaries’ enterprises.
She explained that due to the high population and unique socio-economic and political dynamics in Kampala and Wakiso, implementation guidelines have been modified to suit the two districts.
“The Emyooga apex SACCOS for each of the 18 special categories will be organised at ward level and zoned workplaces,” she said.
In Wakiso, 3,526 associations and 482 SACCOS have been registered, while 400 associations have been listed in Kampala.
“Sensitisation and mobilisation in the five divisions of Kampala is still going on. The formation of SACCOS and compilation of documents for registration is also going on in the city,” she said.
How to access funds
The acting executive director of Microfinance Support Centre, Petronilla Hellen Masika, said identification of individuals subscribing to a given category of Emyooga will be done at parish level with the support of the LC1 leadership.
The minimum number per association is seven and a maximum of 30. In case members exceed 30, they shall split into other groups of 30 members.
“Members of the group will access money through the constituency SACCOS.
These associations will open bank accounts for them to save and be able to access loans. The constituency Emyooga SACCOS is expected to open up an account with any commercial bank on which the money would be credited,” Masika explained.
What exactly is Emyooga?
“Let us first get to know all about Emyooga programme, its objectives and how it works. Otherwise, if you do not understand it, you will not benefit from it. I do not want it to collapse like some of the other wealth creation projects,” Kasolo said.
Kasolo said Emyooga is a Runyankore word meaning a group of people doing the same thing. The Emyooga programme is a presidential initiative on wealth and job creation. The programme targets Ugandans, especially in the informal sector, that come together in form of savings and credit co-operative societies.
It was launched in August last year by President Museveni as part of government efforts to improve household incomes. The project is aimed at promoting job creation and improving household income of 68% Ugandans in subsistence agriculture.
Who is eligible?
Kasolo said the Emyooga programme is for all active Ugandans above 18 years. These include bodaboda riders, taxi drivers, restaurants owners,welders, market vendors, women entrepreneurs, youth, people with disabilities, journalists, performing artistes, veterans, fishermen and elected leaders.
“I have been receiving complaints that there are some groups that were left out. Let us first deal with these and see how it works out and then we will add on more groups,” he said.
The project estimate is sh260b and the money is ready but beneficiaries need to first be trained and also open bank accounts.
“Unlike in the past where we would send the money to districts, this time the money will be sent directly to the group’s bank account. The signatories to the account will be the chairperson, secretary and treasurer,” Kasolo added.
Kasolo explained that in order to inculcate a culture of savings for sustainability of the association, each individual member will be required to make regular savings with the association registered by the office of the district community development officer and then issued with a standard constitution template, customised to suit the different Emyooga groups.
Amounts per SACCOS
Each of the first 17 Emyooga-specific SACCOS will receive sh30m per constituency per SACCOS as seed capital, while the elected local leaders’ constituency SACCOS will receive sh50m per constituency per SACCOS.
The private schools teachers’ SACCOS will receive sh60m per constituency per SACCOS.
Target area of operation
To benefit, one must be registered under a SACCOS at constituency or parish level. However, in Kampala, given the nature of businesses, the SACCOS will be within the place of work, for example, taxi parks, bodaboda stages, markets and offices.
The members must be involved in one of the Emyooga targeted categories. The minimum number of members in each association is seven and maximum is 30.
Kasolo, however, said in case members exceed 30; the same group shall split into other groups of 30 members.
“However, in cases where members are less than seven, they are free to join a SACCOS of a similar enterprise in the nearby parish,” Kasolo said.
Although registration of the Emyooga SACCOS or association is free, each member will be required to pay a subscription fee of sh10,000.