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Prof Ezra Suruma Fears PDM May Not Benefit Poor Ugandans If Cash Isn’t Tracked

UN officials , Locals Government Minister, Raphael Magyezi, Professor Jeffrey Sachs and Makerere University Officials led by Professor Barnabas Nawangwe

Former Minister of Finance, Ezra Suruma says there is a need for a system to track the disbursement of the Parish Development Model cash. He says that the system should be able to find out whether the cash being disbursed to the Parishes has a positive impact on communities.

Professor Suruma, one of the key brains and proponents of Parish Development expressed fear that the cash transfer system may end up without tangible benefits.

Suruma was one of the discussants at a High-Level dialogue held at Makerere University to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of which the Parish Development Model featured as a sub-theme.

The Parish Development Model is one of the latest initiatives introduced by President Museveni’s administration to fight poverty and ensure equality.

Others that have existed include the Etandikwa, Youth Enterprise Scheme, bonnabagagawale, Zoning, Four Acre, Youth Livelihood and Women Fund, Operation Wealth Creation, and Emyooga whose collective performance has been very limited because beneficiaries have either not heeded the implementation guidelines or they have out rightly squandered the cash.

Pius Bamnanya, a student at Makerere University shared his experiences with the way PDM cash is disbursed in Fort Portal where he comes from. He said some of the money is taken by officials.

The Minister For Local Government, Raphael Magyezi in reply agreed that there were some leakages including what he described as “Some extortion” by some of the implementers. He also agreed there is bureaucracy and red tape. Magyezi however said there is some improvement.

“You need to give us some bit of encouragement on where we are going. It has not been an easy job. At the beginning, we were disbursing the funds through accounting officers. Town Clerks and Chief Finance Officers. And that’s where we had a loss of about three billion shillings. But big tribute, we put up a fight,” said Magyezi.

He revealed that the Ministry is considering the transfer of the grants directly from the treasury to the Sacco accounts.

According to Magyezi, part of the efforts to avoid the leakages was the partnership with Makerere University to establish a Parish Development Model Laboratory to monitor the successes under the model “There are things that we as the government will not be able to do. To monitor ourselves, to track ourselves. We have a tracker system within the PDM secretariat. So even today if I want to ow how much money has gone out, I will find out,” revealed Magyezi.

Some Ugandans have indicated that the PDM is bound to fail because the government decided to go full-blast with implementation without piloting it. Magyezi however disagrees with the notion. “Now which Parish did you want us to leave behind? Some of these are political questions which can be very tricky. So we have taken the bull by the horns. And I want to give you the assurance that with PDM we shall succeed”  Magyezi promised.

Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja said the PDM offers a comprehensive strategy to uplift the incomes and the welfare of all Ugandans.

“We don’t want to leave anybody behind. With its seven pillars, the PDM addresses critical aspects such as infrastructure, financial inclusion and community mobilization” he said.

The Parish Development Model seeks to lift the country’s annual GDP growth rate to at least 7% by 2040 – up from 5.1% projected for 2022. President Museveni recently said the PDM was likely to create seventy million jobs. The money is being disbursed to Uganda has a total of 10,694 parishes. While problems related to the disbursement of funds seem to have been overcome.

Some independent researchers and individuals in some of the Parishes say all is not going well. They have indicated that some of the beneficiaries already misused the money and have nothing to show as part of the seven pillars under PDM.

There are indications that some Parish Chiefs have not adequately monitored to ensure that beneficiaries put the money to the intended purposes Professor Ezra Suruma does not discount the fact that some beneficiaries have squandered the resources. He notes that with robust tracking, the cash from the center can lift individuals out of poverty.


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