The Minister of Gender, labour and Social Development, Hajjat Janat Mukwaya has given Isingiro district authorities a two-day ultimatum to release funds meant for women entrepreneurship groups.
The Minister, who is on a monitoring exercise of Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) and Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) projects in the Western region, was left in shock after learning that the district had not remitted the funds they received two months ago.
The Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) is a Government of Uganda fully-funded Programme running on a revolving basis under the administration of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
The delay came to light when the Minister visited Omutima Gwa Kikagati Women Group in Kikagati Sub-county, Isingiro district on Wednesday.
The group that intends to boost their already existing produce and buying enterprise is slated to receive Shs4.7 million as was approved by the gender ministry.
According to the Manager Projects under UWEP, William Tumwine, up to Shs233 million meant for 46 groups was released from the Ministry to Isingiro district on May 29, 2017 and has since then been kept on account under unclear circumstances.
“They have wasted time in back and forth consultations with the Accountant General on whether the groups needed Tax Identification Numbers (TINs). We advised them that TINs are not necessary for the women or youth groups because they are Community Based Organisations but they seem to have disregarded our advice.” Tumwine said.
The assistant Chief Administrative Officer, Aloysius Gumisiriza, confessed that they had written to the Accountant General who indeed advised the district that TINs are only required for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and not CBOs.
The district councillor representing Kikagati Sub-county, Prima Ainomugisha, who also holds the portfolio of Secretary Community-based Services at the District council, accused the Chief Finance Officer for specifically escalating the delay over TINs.
The Minister dismissed the excuses authorities in Isingiro were fronting saying they should have picked a leaf from neighbouring districts like Kabale, Ntungamo and Kisoro where women groups received their funds without TINs and their enterprises are already thriving.
“I want the money released before end of this week and it should be with interest because the motive of delay seems to be different,” Mukwaya ruled.
“You can’t think we in Kampala are empty headed and you at the district are brighter. Put your house in order,” She added.
Mukwaya cautioned district authorities across the country to ensure timely release of funds noting that any delay does not only disrupt the project’s implementation schedules but also the forecasted profitability, which makes it difficult for the groups to payback as planned.
The minister also issued a stern warning to any district or sub county officials who may be implicated in the misappropriation of the women or youth funds saying she would ensure they are punished accordingly.
“We won’t tolerate any civil servants putting their jobs at stake by playing around with the women and youth funds. We shall ask you to give way, after all we are not short of manpower. We are churning out 400,000 graduates every year and these will hit a two million mark by 2021.” She noted.
She emphasised that the two funds are meant to tackle unemployment and bolster economic development among women and youth.
The minister, accompanied by the two programme officials, started her visit in Kisoro district last week and has since visited several projects in Kabale, Ntungamo and Isingiro. She will also inspect projects in Kiruhura during the same leg.
Among the projects she has visited is Matyanzo Irish potato growing women Group in Kisoro which has paid up to its credit of Shs7 million within a year and remained with a going concern enterprise and profit over 3million. In Ntungamo district she visited Kikoni Youth boda boda group which got Shs11.6 million and have already paid back Shs6.5 million. They own four motorcycles. Their intention is to procure a motorcycle for each of the 10 members.
The minister noted that the successes she had witnessed among groups visited is testimony of how the two programmes can uplift the economic status of both women and youth.
To access the money, women form groups of 10-15 through which they get Expression of Interest forms from the Sub County or Division within their locality.
No physical assets/collateral is required and the service is provide to both existing and new groups.