Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Parliamentary Forum on Social Protection has warned that thousands of older persons benefiting from the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment – SAGE programme across the country will be severely affected following a significant budget cut.
Flavia Kabahenda, the Chairperson of the Forum says that a position paper on Social Protection Financing in the National Budget Framework Paper for the Financial Year 2023/24 reflects extreme finding shortfalls of up to 80 per cent towards social protection interventions.
The Senior Citizens Grant is Uganda’s largest cash transfer programme that started in 2010 targeting older persons aged 80 years and above. Currently, a total of 306,516 older persons are enlisted to benefit from the grant with a monthly grant of 25,000 Shillings for each.
Kabahenda pointed out that the number is expected to increase given the ongoing registration of eligible beneficiaries and the correction of 43,559 potential members’ details by the National Identification & Registration Authority – NIRA.
The current budget requirement for the 306,516 beneficiaries is 121 billion Shillings. But the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development – MoFPED has approved and allocated 24 billion Shillings only, about 20 per cent required financing.
Bugiri Municipality Member of Parliament Asuman Basalirwa criticized the Government for failing to meet its obligation of taking care of the older persons yet the composition of the Executive is typical of the elderly.
Due to inflation, the grant value has since been eroded from the initial 25,000 Shillings to 14,500 Shillings. In their report on the National Budget Framework Paper, the Budget Committee of Parliament recommended increasing the value to 30,000 Shillings.
In FY 2022/2023, Parliament adopted a recommendation to have the age of eligibility reduced from the current 80 to 75 years. It would require an additional budget of 71 billion Shillings to meet the target.
Also, in the current financial year, a total of 962 Persons with Disabilities groups benefited from their Special Grant which reached out to 7,377 individuals out of which 5,752 were males and 4,265 females across 66 Local Governments in the country.
From the 16.6 billion Shillings provided in the Financial Year 2022/23, the current Budget Framework Paper shows an allocation of only 3.32 billion Shillings. It is estimated that about 2,600 children aged 7-17 years across live on the streets, denting the country’s human capital development strategies.
While the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development requires five billion Shillings for their withdrawal, rehabilitation and resettlement, no allocation was made for the purpose.