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MPs task gender ministry on Covid-19 cash criteria

Minister Betty Amongi was appearing before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament to explain criteria followed in disbursement of Covid-19 relief cash. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Members of Parliament have tasked the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development to explain the criteria used by the government to come up with the beneficiaries of the COVID-19 relief cash.

The Minister Betty Amongi appeared before a joint committee comprising both the Public Accounts and the Local Government committees last evening to respond to queries about the list of beneficiaries of the COVID-19 cash, which was tabled before parliament by Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja last month.

Under the initiative, the government has been distributing 100,000 Shillings to selected people classified as vulnerable during the 42-days lockdown which ended on Friday. The beneficiaries were identified from groups of people that depend on daily earnings in Kampala, all cities, and municipalities.

The Ministry of Finance has since released 53.5 billion Shillings for the 501,107 targeted beneficiaries who include bus or taxi drivers, conductors, baggage carriers, wheelbarrow pushers, touts, traffic guides, barmen, DJs, barmaids, waiters and bouncers, bar, gym and restaurant workers, boda boda riders, special hire drivers and Uber drivers, salons, massage parlor workers, teachers, and others.

Medard Lubega Sseggona, the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament tasked Among to explain why leaders at the Local councils and MPs were left out while compiling lists of the vulnerable people.

Tororo Woman MP Sarah Opendi said that the omissions could have led to the issuance of money to the wrong beneficiaries. Similarly, Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa noted that omitting the Local Council leaders from the verification process caused glitches in the exercise and questioned why the Ministry did not find it necessary to involve legislators in the selection of the beneficiaries.

In his response, Aggrey Kibenge, the Ministry of Gender Permanent Secretary said that the Local Council leaders had been involved through the office of town clerks.

However, MPs objected to the submission saying that the town clerks instead sidelined the Local Council leaders.

Some of the terms of reference given to the committee by Parliament is to verify the beneficiaries of the cash, establish the number of people who received money, inquire into the criteria used to ascertain the beneficiaries, understand the government’s policy used to disburse funds and others.

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