Parliament raised concern over the central government’s delay in rolling out the Senior Citizens Grant (SCG) to all districts in the country.
The legislators expressed disapproval over the report of the Sectorial Committee of Gender, Labour and Social Development on the Ministerial Policy Statement and Budget Estimates for the financial year 2017/2018.
In the Ministerial Statement, the President, H.E. Yoweri Museveni directed that the roll out of the SCG to all districts be pushed to the following financial year 2018/2019.
During a plenary sitting yesterday, Thursday 25th May, 2017, Hon. Denis Hamson Obua (Ajuri) said that many of the MPs made a commitment to the elders in their constituencies that this money would be availed to everyone in this financial year.
“We had a plan for rolling out the Grant to all districts but according to the Minister the program may be inhibited by lack of funding; how are we going to be able to convince our voters that there is no money when they know that other districts are already benefiting?” he said.
Hon. Mbwatekamwa Gaffa (Kasambya County) further asked whether the programme was intended for the entire country or just some people. “We should not pass the budget if the programme cannot be rolled out to everyone. We are seated on a time bomb, if other elderly people learn that some districts are receiving yet they do not, it might be interpreted that we as MPs from those districts that are not benefiting are not working,” Gaffa said.
In addition, Hon. Jalia Bintu (Masindi) reported that in every meeting within the district she represents, people constantly ask about the Grant and whether they will ever benefit.
“If the government does not have any money let us go back to the drawing board and adjust the programme to benefit only those who are 80 years of age. We can eventually lower the age limit when the government is able to acquire a greater source of funding,” Bintu noted.
Hon. Herbert Ariko (Soroti Municipality) also added that the age for beneficiaries is raised for the sake of equitable distribution of resources.
“The people on the ground want to see results in form of the money being distributed because they have heard about it. We also need to teach these people on how to utilize these resources when we roll it out so that they are not totally dependent on it,” Ariko said.
Parliament then voted to adopt the Report with an amendment in the President’s directive to have the Senior Citizen’s Grant rolled out to the entire country in this financial year.