Women MPs have asked the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to channel the Shs 53billion meant for women in the country through them.
Speaking at a breakfast meeting at Imperial Royal Hotel organised by Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Fund (UWEP) where all women MPs had been invited, Kiryandongo woman MP Hellen Kawunde kicked off the clamour, expressing fears that the funds could be misused.
“Since no certificate is needed, how are you selecting the beneficiaries of the fund,” she inquired from the State Minister for Gender and Culture, Peace Mutuuzo.
Butaleja Woman MP, Milly Mugeni weighed in on the question, asking, “Who is registering those receiving these funds?”, a query that was shared by her colleague from Gulu, who also called for the training of the women before being given the funds.
“How will it be given out without ladies being trained?” she asked, before both demanded that as elected representative of the intended beneficiaries, they were better placed to distribute the funds to women in their respective constituencies ‘because they know all the leaders there’.
“We call for (Women) MPs to be involved in the activities of women,” Kawunde requested.
However, while responding to the MPs, Minister Mutuuzo said that government was not targeting experts but the people who have been ‘left behind’.
She expressed fears that the funds would be ‘politicised’ if channeled through MPs. “Everyone would go back to their constituencies and tell the locals; this is from FDC…this is from NRM…this is from DP…This is what we are trying to avoid,” she said.
She, however, tasked them to monitor the enterprises to ensure compliance with the established rules and procedures.
“MPs are expected to undertake regular political supervision of the programme to ensure quality results. Parliament is also expected to advocate for increased funding for the programme,” she added.
On how the beneficiaries are selected, Minister Mutuuzo said it is done through a community participatory process that involves LC1 officials and Women Council leaders.
It has been established that the selection of Women Groups under UWEP is undertaken by the beneficiary selection committee chaired by the sub-county chief with members including the chairperson of the sub-county women council and the Community Development Officer.
This financial year government released over Shs43billion to support women in the micro, small and medium enterprise subsector through provision of interest-free credit, technical advice for appropriate technologies, value addition and market information.
The funds are accessed through the women groups with membership of 10 to 15, with the major focus on unemployed women and vulnerable groups such as single young mothers, widows, the disabled, women living with HIV/Aids and slum dwellers.
So far 19 districts have benefited from the project and it is scheduled to cover the whole country in the near future, the ministry says.
The districts that have benefited from the project include Otuke which got Shs 67.1 million for 8 women groups; Kamuli (Shs 60.5 million for 15 women groups); Kisoro (Shs 70.9 million for 21 groups) and Nakasongola , Shs 45.8 million for 19 groups.
Others are Kiruhura (Shs 68.5 million for nine groups), Mayuge (Shs 56.8 million for 14 groups) and Kaliro Shs 51 million for 8 women groups.
Kaliro in particular will receive an extra Shs 30 million to bring the total allocation to Shs 81 million.