Govt seeks Shs120 billion for older persons
What you need to know:
- While speaking to the media during the engagement meeting with officials from Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) in Kampala yesterday, the head of expanding social protection programme, Mr Stephen Kasaija, said the ministry had budgeted for Shs120 billion to cater for 358, 420 older persons and arrears.
The Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development needs Shs120 billion in the Financial Year 2022/2023 to cater for 358,420 older persons.
The money will be managed under the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment Scheme (SAGE) for the elderly.
While speaking to the media during the engagement meeting with officials from Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) in Kampala yesterday, the head of expanding social protection programme, Mr Stephen Kasaija, said the ministry had budgeted for Shs120 billion to cater for 358, 420 older persons and arrears.
“By July next year, we will be in position to start clearing arrears for older persons and Shs14.4b has been allocated in the budget,’ he said.
Mr Kasaija added that they need more resources so that more older persons are paid.
“We have been getting Shs62.8b, but our budget for the next financial year needs more funds,” he said.
Mr Kasaija implored Parliament, Cabinet and the Finance ministry to make sure the money is increased.
“We need this money urgently because the donors who have been supporting the SAGE project are leaving in June and it will be hard to cover up all the beneficiaries along with the arrears,” he said
The ministry has embarked on registering the elderly who don’t have identity cards and they have so far covered 100 districts.
“We were able to register 12,000 people without National Identity cards and 43,000 with wrong information on their cards. All the work requires some time to be accomplished,” he said.
Mr Kasaija also noted that there is a proposal to lower the minimum age requirement from 80 to 75 or 60.
“The consultation observed that lowering the minimum eligibility age to 60 would be the most desirable option because they would be able to reach out to 1,506,300 people ,’he said.
Ms Jane Ekapu, the acting secretary for EOC, said their meeting with SAGE officials was to clarify on the issues of gender and equity compliance while enrolling to the scheme.
“We had the issue of the requirement for older persons to open bank accounts because it is not fair for some of them,” she said.
Ms Ekapu also added that having a National Identity card as a requirement is problematic because several older persons don’t have the cards or have wrong information on their IDs.
“The pay points are not favourable for elder persons. Beneficiaries are kept in long queues, which is not good for their health and in some areas, they have to travel many kilometres to access the grants,” she said.
The government with support from development partners (Department for International Development and Irish Aid) implemented the SAGE scheme in all the districts with the aim of supporting older persons who are 80 years above with Shs25, 000 per month. SAGE programme started in 2010 with a pilot scheme covering 15 districts and extended to 20 districts in 2015, targeting 100 older persons per sub-county, but the number of beneficiaries has gradually increased. Last month, elderly persons benefiting from the SAGE programme in Yumbe District petitioned government to increase the money given to them from the Shs25,000 to Shs100,000 to cater for the increasing cost of living. Ms Catherine Mavenjina, the MP representing elders in northern region, said they have formulated a Bill appealing to government to reduce the beneficiary age from 80 years and increase funding.