Sunday July 6 2014

Elderly persons petition Parliament over government funding

By Olive Eyotaru

PARLIAMENT- A group of elderly persons, under their umbrella body, the National Network for Older Persons of Uganda (NNOPU), have petitioned Parliament, demanding an explanation from government over funding towards the Senior Citizens Grant programme under the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) programme.

SAGE, aimed at expanding social protection to vulnerable persons, was launched in 2011 and is currently supporting 104,000 older persons above 65 years in 14 pilot districts.

Presenting the petition to the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga on Friday, NNOPU chairperson, Mr John Orach, lamented that there is no financial commitment reflected in the 2014/2015 budget framework paper.

He also said the President’s recent commitment that the programme will be extended to Nebbi has been futile, yet the pilot programme is slated to end in February 2015.

“This has cast doubt on the future of the programme. The lack of demonstrable government commitment has caused anxiety among older persons in the districts where this programme has not been implemented, as well as uncertainty in the 14 pilot districts where it is currently operating,” Mr Orach noted.

Ms Kadaga acknowledged the efforts of the group, also revealing that she has been receiving complaints from the elderly persons in Busoga over lack of access to the money.

Mr Jim Mugunga, the Ministry of Finance spokesperson, told Sunday Monitor that the budget is the responsibility of line ministries, which Finance implements.

Efforts to get a comment from the State minister for the Elderly and the Disabled, Mr Suleiman Madada, were futile as his known phone number was switched off.