Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | In a bid to curb the embezzlement of the Parish Development Model (PDM) funds, the government will start disbursing the revolving funds directly to Sacco group accounts. The parish Revolving fund is a capitalization grant from the government to SACCOs meant for lending to viable income-generating activities in the production, processing, marketing, and storage of agricultural products.
Initially, the PDM revolving fund was sent to the District Local government accounts for disbursement to the benefitting Sacco groups at the Parish level. Under PDM, each parish was supposed to receive 17 million Shillings parish revolving fund out of the 180 billion Shillings budgeted by the government in the FY 2021/22.
The Local Government, Minister Raphael Magyezi however told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that cases of embezzlement by district officials have pushed the government to come up with new safeguards. In FY 2021/22, the government released only 76.28 billion Shillings out of 165.9 billion Shillings provided for the Parish revolving fund.
Magyezi notes that even when the government issued instructions stopping district officials and Sacco groups from spending the money, the fund was abused in the name of carrying out sensitization and holding workshops. The government had stopped officials from spending the money owing to loopholes in the PDM guidelines, the non-readiness of Saccos, and the failure to identify enterprises and conduct community sensitization.
Magyezi notes that with the embezzlement of the fund recorded in various local governments, they have now opted to disburse parish revolving funds directly to the benefiting Sacco accounts instead of district accounts. He says the district and sub-county officials will no longer handle the money but will be tasked to monitor and supervise its use by the Sacco groups.
He however warned the beneficiaries that the fund isn’t an appreciation from the government for voting for the National Resistance Movement-NRM party but for achieving a specific function of poverty eradication.
Last month, key technical staff of Kitgum district including the Chief Administrative Officer, Joel Musisi were arrested on allegations of swindling over 500 million Shillings meant for PDM. Musisi has since been interdicted as the government carries out further investigation.
Amuru District Chairperson Michael Lakony on Monday told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that the latest safeguard measure initiated by the government should also be closely monitored to avoid the money being squandered by Sacco groups. He particularly emphasized that the district and Sub-county officials should be empowered since the central government won’t be able to directly monitor the money at the Parish level.
He accused the government of failing to put in place a better guideline and operational model that has seen the PDM fund being swindled leading to its failure at the initial stage.
In Amuru District, the government disbursed about 290 million shillings for the parish revolving fund. According to Lakony, the money was less than what had been budgeted by the government, arguing that they ended up sending in each of the 58 Sacco accounts 5.1 million shillings instead of 17 million shillings.
Magyezi acknowledged that the government had committed shillings 17 million per parish but the Treasury didn’t release all the money adding that it will be sent this quarter. Parish revolving fund arrears from last financial year according to the government amount to 112.7 billing shillings.
By the end of the FY 2021/22, a total of 67.2 billion shillings had been disbursed by 154 local governments to the bank accounts of 7,666 Sacco groups countrywide. In this FY 2022/23 the appropriated budget for PDM amounts to 1.14 trillion shillings out of which 1.05 trillion shillings is for the Parish revolving fund.