The Leader of Opposition – LOP Mathias Mpuuga has vowed to compel Parliament to investigate how the money allocated to the pensions scheme in the country is spent. Mpuuga observes that Uganda’s retirement benefits scheme is one of the most abused public resources that Parliament must investigate to ascertain the prevailing anomalies for appropriate interventions to streamline it.
He made the remark Wednesday while responding to a petition by the legislators on the Parliamentary Forum on Social Protection program over the sharp budget cut for elderly persons in the Financial Year 2023/2024.
He said the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development owes the country an explanation why funds allocated for retirement benefits delay being remitted to the beneficiary accounts.
The Parliamentary Forum on Social Protection led by their Chairperson Flavia Kabahenda, also the Kyegegwa District Woman Representative, sought LOP’s audience to lobby for more funding for the elderly persons under the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment – SAGE.
Kabahenda explained that for the last 12 years since 2010, the SAGE program was a donor-funded intervention. However, due to dwindling funds, donors have pulled out putting the welfare of over 306,516 beneficiaries aged 80 in jeopardy amid a lack of national social protection strategies.
Joram Ruranga Tibasiima, the Member of Parliament representing older persons of the Western Region says funds mismanagement coupled with the severe budget cut for the older persons is a disaster for the country.
The current budget requirement for the 306,516 beneficiaries is 121 billion Shillings. But according to the draft National Budget Framework Paper that Parliament approved on Tuesday, the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development – MoFPED has allocated 24 billion Shillings only, about 20 percent of the required financing.
The number of beneficiary elderly persons is expected to increase after the ongoing registration and verification of 43,559 eligible recipients by the National Identification & Registration Authority– NIRA, and would require an additional budget of eight billion Shillings funding.
The legislators are equally concerned about 5.1 billion Shillings pending arrears for the FY 2022/2023. Further, the funding shortfall overall will severely impact the lives of hundreds of other elderly persons clocking 80 years of age required to be enrolled under SAGE.