The State Minister for Microfinance, Haruna Kasolo has warned that saccos that misappropriate money given to them by government in the new poverty eradication scheme risk being jailed.
“Whoever borrows the money we have injected in the saccos must return it. Whoever fails will be arrested. Don’t misuse the money but use it for its intended goal,”Kasolo said at the launch of the ‘Emyooga’, presidential initiative on job and wealth creation at Kira Municipality headquarters.
The minister explained that whereas all other government initiatives aimed at alleviating poverty have not yielded much, this time round, government is going to be strict to ensure Emyooga succeeds.
“The office of the president will monitor the program and the RDC will be in charge. You will see vehicles burn fuel worth shs200,000 to come and arrest someone who has embezzled shs10,000. That is how serious this is going to be.”
According to minister Kasolo, one of the biggest problems facing saccos is their leaders but warned members against choosing greedy leaders in whose hands the saccos will collapse.
He however insisted that any greedy sacco leaders won’t escape jail in case government gets to know of it in regards the Emyooga initiative.
In order to ensure transparency, three sacco leaders including the chairman, secretary and treasurer will be signatories on the sacco account plus one opinion leader chosen by the members.
“For money to get off the account, all the four people must agree. We shall ask the bank to issue alerts to at least two other members of the sacco so that if anything happens, at least six people know of it,”Kasolo said.
The minister explained that the shs30 million to be given to each constituency sacco is not such a big deal but noted that government’s aim is to ensure members learn the rationale behind saving.
“Members must first save some money before getting the seed capital ( shs30 million). We might even send the money onto their accounts before they save but lock it and they only access it after having some savings on the account. This is all aimed at inculcating a saving culture among the sacco members,”Kasolo said.
About the initiative
The Emyooga initiative targets Ugandans in coming together in saccos from 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.
Members will form associations of between 7 – 30 members at parish level.
The associations of members doing the same job(eg.boda boda riders) will then come together under one sacco formed at constituency level that will receive the shs30 million after saving some money on their joint account.
Each constituency will receive shs560 million for saccos of the 18 clusters.
According to Alfred Eboku Ejanu, the head of Credit and Operations at the Microfinance Support Centre, the main idea behind the initiative is to encourage members of the public to save through their various categories of work they do.
“This initiative is special because it brings together people of the same trade to save for development,”Ejanu said.