Minister Tumwebaze at the event.

 

The Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Mr Frank Tumwebaze, on Friday launched the distribution of SAGE funds for the Ankole sub-region, reiterating that the government is committed to uplifting the socio-economic conditions of older persons.

In the Ankole sub-region, 37,534 older persons above the age of 80 years will benefit from the funds while 358,420 older persons will have benefitted when the roll-out is completed in all the 135 districts in the country.

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In this phase, older persons will be taking home Shs150,000 to cater for all the six months when the country was under lockdown with restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the Corono virus hampering efforts to distribute the money.

Speaking at the launch for the Ankole sub-region at Ruti Rehabilitation Centre in Mbarara City, Mr Tumwebaze acknowledged that there are challenges with the national ID and the cut-off age of 80.

“I am aware that the cut-off age of 80 years and the use of the national ID are a challenge. About the National ID, there are many older persons who qualify by age but did not register with NIRA and they are therefore not on the NIRA register where they can be picked by SAGE. Then we have those who registered and lost their National IDs. I am acutely aware of these challenges and we are working on a solution, “Mr Tumwebaze said.

He added: “It is important that our older persons are able to access this grant regularly, conveniently and with dignity. The Senior Citizens Grant is a social protection instrument aimed at addressing poverty and vulnerability among the older persons in Uganda.”

Speaking at the launch, Mr John Orach, the Northern Uganda representative to the Elderly Council, said that the government should consider lowering the age of the beneficiaries from 80 to 60, if older persons are to benefit.

“I am sure that the government can squeeze somewhere and ensure that old people who attain the age of 60 can benefit from this Fund, “Mr Orach told the Minister.

Mr Stephen Kasaija, the Head of the Expanding Social Protection (ESP) program, who represented the Permanent Secretary, indicated that the Ministry is preparing a Cabinet White Paper to address the challenges that have been encountered.