The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development requires shs29.6 billion to cater for the elderly under the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) in the financial year 2019/2020. The Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon Janat Mukwaya, said that covering all persons of 80 years and above in all the 135 districts in the country requires shs142.5 billion each year.
“Development partners have committed shs50 billion leaving a balance of shs 92.5 billion to be covered by the Government. ln 2019/20, Government has provided shs62.88 billion leaving a shortfall of Shs 29.58 billion,” Mukwaya revealed.
The Minister added that the Finance Ministry would, in the financial year 2020/2021, be expected to provide the full budget of shs142.4 billion to ensure all SAGE beneficiaries are paid for 12 months.
“Given the resources available, the Ministry [Gender] will accordingly pay all the existing 157,000 beneficiaries in the 61 districts for 12 months and the new beneficiary districts for six months from January to June 2020 to avoid creating arrears,” Mukwaya said.
She also told the House that target beneficiaries ought to be registered with National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) and in possession of a valid national identity card, be of the right set age threshold as at the time of registration and not be receiving a pension.
Members of Parliament raised concerns of under-declaration of age by potential beneficiaries of the programme and urged the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to pay keen attention on persons’ ages during the enrolment.
“While registering for National IDs, some older persons did not disclose their actual age because they did not know their dates of birth. Eventually, they found themselves out of the 80 year bracket and are now not benefiting,” said Hon. Robert Centenary (FDC, Kasese Municipality).
Bunya South MP, Hon. Robert Ntende added that, “It was found that those who come to complain that they are not getting money yet they registered, did not declare their age especially women. The Ministry [Gender] should help us to correct the under-declaration of age”.
MPs also tasked Government to rein in on unscrupulous individuals who solicit money from older persons to enable them benefit from the social assistance grant.
“There is a group of people who have been getting money from elders in the guise of registering them for SAGE. The Ministry ought to do more sensitisation so that elders are not ripped off,” said Hon. Hellen Adoa (NRM, Serere District).