Top managers at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and that of Local Government have resolved to take firm sanctions against District and Sub county officials cited in the defective implementation of Government Programmes.
The decision was reached at during a bilateral meeting that was convened by the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development Hon. Janat B. Mukwaya at the Gender Ministry headquarters in Kampala on Tuesday.
The meeting was attended by the Minister of Local Government, Tom Butime, the two Permanent Secretaries, Pius Bigirimana of the Gender Ministry and Ben Kumumanya of the Local Government Ministry, plus a host of Commissioners and Programme managers.
The meeting arose out of findings made by Mukwaya during her ongoing nationwide monitoring of projects funded under the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) and the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP). She has so far covered selected sites in the Karamoja, Eastern, Central and South Western regions.
Both the YLP and UWEP are programmes implemented under the established Government structures with the sub county and district officials wielding the responsibility to help communities generate project proposals, vet them and submit to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development for funding.
Each project can be financed to a tune of Sh12.5 million while those with a value addition component can get up to Shs25 million, although the latter is approved by the Ministry.
Through her visits, Mukwaya said she had observed that the Gender Ministry was endeavouring to do its job although some officials at the district and sub county were not playing their roles and thus failing some of the projects.
“There is no functional linkage between the District and Sub county leadership. The Sub county leadership seems to be detached from the district and therefore the authority that the Chief Administration Officer (CAO) wields over the Sub county Chief is questionable,” She noted.
She said the involvement of Sub county chiefs and sub accountants as signatories to women and youth group accounts was envisaged to guide groups to implement their enterprises according to work plans. However, this has in most cases been abused through extortion of money from the groups under the guise of transport and other allowances. In some cases there has been outright demand of ransom before signing.
Chief Administrative Officers and Chief Finance Officers (CFOs) were faulted for delaying the release of funds to beneficiary groups using excuses of the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMIS).
Although groups are not required to be formally registered to receive funding under the two Programmes, districts and sub counties were imposing levies for registration as Community Based Organisation as a means of boasting local revenue. Mukwaya ruled that this is wrong and must stop.
“We cannot be impoverishing the same people we are seeking to help” She noted.
She said some local government officials were inflating project costs and cited an example of Nakasongola where a sub county chief added Shs5 million to the Shs7.5 million that had been requested by a group. The scam was detected by the Ministry staff during verification of the files and the budget was adjusted back to Shs7.5 million.
Some local governments were also reported to be spreading out the funds to cover more groups, which undermines the recipient group’s ability to successfully implement the enterprise. An example was given of some piggery projects that have run out of money for feeds because their budgets were drastically cut.
Mukwaya further noted that some local governments had not prioritised these flagship Programmes as identified in the Presidential 24 directives as “priorities among priorities”.
She called for training of Community Development Officers in the field of project/enterprise appraisal and evaluation to build their capacity in managing the projects.
Bigirimana raised concern about the disjointed monitoring at the districts which is not cognisant of the scarce resources. He advised that district teams need to monitor government programmes jointly to save on time, fuel and avoid community fatigue.
Minister Tom Butime said the concerns were valid as he had experienced some of the issues during mobilisation in his constituency in Kyenjonjo, where the Community Development Officer seemed to have overall powers on which groups benefited from the fund.
“I am a very strong supporter of the women and youth funds and agree that we should take all steps to ensure that they succeed,” Butime said.
The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Local Government, Ben Kumumanya, commended the feedback and pledged that the YLP and UWEP would henceforth be placed as variables in their inspection to ensure that emerging issues are promptly addressed.
“The principal government programme implementers are the CAOs and Sub county chiefs. We are going to make follow up on the information shared and appropriate administrative action will be taken against any officials implicated in wrong doings,” Kumumanya pledged.
He warned CAOs against abdicating their responsibility over government monies at the district and sub counties, adding that the whip would be swung against the nonperformers.
The excuse of “IFMIS failure” for delayed remittance of funds to beneficiary groups was quashed as the system was confirmed to be working perfectly in all but two districts.
“The CAOs will be held liable for any delayed groups funds,” Kumumanya noted.
It was also mooted that the CAO and their deputies would be allocated to supervise one of the two Programmes for improved results.
The two ministries appreciated the partnership that had been honed during the bilateral meeting and agreed to continue sharing information to strengthen the Programmes implementation.