The State Minister in charge of Microfinance, Haruna Kyeyune Kasolo has said government should not be blamed in case of ghost Emyooga saccos but rather Resident District Commissioners.
The parliamentary Covid task force recently said that there were glaring discrepancies in the expenditure of Emyooga funds including sending of funds to non-existent saccos.
The deputy Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among recently asked legislators to investigate the implementation of the program in their constituencies.
On Monday, Minister Kasolo made an impromptu visit to Bukedea district to monitor the progress of Emyooga program.
Speaking to some of the sacco leaders, the minister insisted that government did its job of introducing the program, adding that in case of any discrepancies, they are not to blame.
“I was instructed by the president and cabinet that RDCs should head the Emyooga task force in every district and Microfinance Support Centre should only send money to an account of the sacco recommended by the RDC. In case there is any ghost, then we need to ask the RDC why they sent that Sacco’s details,” Kasolo said.
The minister also dismissed claims that Emyooga was a political tool to canvas votes for President Yoweri Museveni in the just concluded 2021 general election as has been said by many.
The opposition Forum for Democratic Change party deputy secretary general, Harold Kaija on Monday said during a weekly press conference that Emyooga initiative is a political tool but not a poverty alleviation program.
Speaking to leaders in Bukedea, Minister dismissed the claims saying the program is meant to ensure people get out of poverty, adding that by claiming the program is a political tool, many have missed out on its benefits.
“Many of those who say they have not benefitted didn’t embrace the program claiming it was a political tool. Many said they would only join after seeing colleagues benefit from the program. After realizing that many people have benefited, the naysayers are now rushing to join,”Kasolo said.
“We should teach people that the money is not for sharing but saving as a sacco and getting loans at lower interests rates from the sacco. The main aim is to ensure people get capital to inject in their businesses.”
Minister Kasolo reiterated President Museveni’s Sunday comments saying that Emyooga program is a success and not a failure as labeled by some people, especially politicians.
“The program has attracted saving worth shs27 billion a thing that has never happened and people use these saving to access cheap credit. Unless we embrace a saving culture, we can’t get out of poverty. Money in commercial banks is very expensive since there is too much demand for it but if we encourage people to come together and pool money they can get loans from their own saccos and reduce demand on money in commercial banks. The interest rate will definitely go down,” he said.
The Emyooga initiative that started last year targets Ugandans especially in the informal sector who come together in form of Saccos under 18 clusters including Boda boda riders, taxi drivers, restaurants, welders, market vendors, women entrepreneurs, youth leaders, people with disabilities, journalists, performing artists, veterans, fishermen, and elected leaders.
Each of the Saccos receives shs30 million as seed capital, save for the private teachers and leaders that each receives shs60 million and 50 million respectively.
A member is eligible for a loan from his or her own sacco that he is saving with and the interest rate for the loan is not more than 8%.
The program is implemented by the Microfinance Support Centre.