President Yoweri Museveni has directed that people who borrow Parish Development Model money should not be harassed to pay back so quickly but should be given more time.
Speaking to the NRM parliamentary caucus who are currently in retreat at the National Leadership Institute (NALI) in Kyankwanzi district, the president said he had received several concerns and complaints from the locals during the recent presidential tours that some leaders have started demanding them to pay back the money after four months.
“Some people reported to me that the SACCO leaders started demanding that they pay back the money after four months contrary to our intent and purpose of supporting the people to get out of poverty,” the president said.
Adding: “For the avoidance of doubt, nobody should be asked to pay back the Emyooga money before 12 months. The person may decide to pay it all at once or choose to pay in instalments after 12 months up to 24 months.”
Mr Museveni reminded legislators that the money being put into Emyooga and the Parish Development Model (PDM) is a stick of dynamite against parasites in Uganda.
“It is against money lenders and commercial banks who have been stealing from Ugandans for a long time and so, they are trying to fail those programmes.”
He also raised a concern that some businessmen are said to be getting this money from SACCOs and using it to go to China to import without benefitting members.
The president guided on Emyooga beneficiaries saying they should be allowed enough to invest and produce before they start to pay back the money.
“Since the focus of PDM is on agriculture, crops take time to mature. Let the borrowers start to pay after 24 months. The borrower can decide to pay all the money at once or in instalments for between 24 to 36 months. The purpose is for our people to grow and not to grow the SACCO fund. So, don’t just concentrate on the funding to grow,” Mr Museveni said.
He urged MPs to always guide locals on these programmes in the simplest way possible; underscoring the importance of leaders communicating well with ordinary people.
The president decried graft which he said is still a major hindrance to the implementation of these flagship programmes saying in some cases, he discovered outright corruption where some Resident District Commissioners askfor money.
The president asked the PDM secretariat not to harass locals while forming SACCOs, citing Gulu district where people were rushed to form SACCOs without following due process.
“You are the people on the ground, come and honestly report to us once you find any anomalies in the processes” the president said as he appealed to MPs.
The Minister of State for Microfinance, Mr Haruna Kyeyune Kasolo, noted that some people are likely to remain poor due to a mindset challenge where they think that whatever has been given to them is for consumption and they wait for the government to donate again.
“Our people should be advised on what they ought to do. They should be told that wealth creation is a personal responsibility and not for the government or their leaders,” he said.
He outlined major challenges facing the government including negative propaganda from money lenders and shortsighted politicians who think that by properly implementing government projects, they will have no reason to convince voters to elect them.
He appealed to MPs and other leaders to go back to their respective constituencies and take charge of all poverty alleviation programmes.
“Stand firm against some rogue RDCs and commercial officers who seek money from the population under the guise of transport facilitation to offer them any services. If money is wasted, the people will come to you begging for donations yet the government gives them money to create their wealth,” Mr Kasolo said.