KUMI – The government has set aside UGX32 billion for the rollout of the Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment (SAGE) programme to all districts in the country.
Under the current arrangement, government has been paying Shs25,000 every month to people aged above 65 years in only 61 districts.
But speaking at the International Day for the Elderly in Kumi District on Tuesday, Gender minister Janat Mukwaya said the fund will now benefit at least 35,000 elderly persons throughout the country.
However, she revealed that senior citizens from the added districts have to be 80 years and above to benefit from the grant.
“This is how it was all resolved at Parliament and nobody should again come to ground to demobilise this programme,” Ms Mukwaya said.
However, Rev Joram Tibasiima, the national chairperson of the Elders Forum, expressed fear of the sustainability of the grant.
“We are already aware that there is a shortfall of Shs29.89b and the budget is only catering for six months. Beyond that, the access to these funds is also difficult as many older persons do not have National Identity Cards, as National Identification Registration Authority’s technology in most cases fails to read thumb prints of older persons hence many have ended up without IDs,” Rev Tibasiima said.
He said government has also failed to enroll the older persons in a number of government programmes and has continued to give them empty promises.
“Last year, President Museveni gave a directive to give older persons Shs10b but to date, this money has not been realised,” the chairperson said. He said there are currently 60 Saccos for the elderly across the country that are awaiting funding.
Rev Tibasiima also tasked government to create slot for elderly representation in Parliament.
Kumi Municipality MP Silas Aogon supported the idea, saying it would help older persons present their views directly to Parliament.
“If we can have 10 army representatives in Parliament, why can’t we have an MP for older persons,” he said.