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Allocation of Shs 87mln to cooperatives sector draws mixed reactions in Kwania

KWANIA June 8, 2024 – A move by Kwania district council to allocate a sum of Shs 87 million to the district’s Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives sector has sparked mixed reactions from the sector players.

Kwania district council in its recent sitting at the district headquarters situated in Wipolo in Aduku town council, approved a budget of Shs26 billion to implement different activities in the district in the financial year 2024/2025 that kicks off on July 1, 2024.

Most of Kwania district’s budget, like other districts in Uganda, will be funded by transfers from the central government which has tabled a Shs 72 trillion budget for the financial year 2022/2025.

According to sectorial allocation by the district council, Education and Sports took the largest share of Shs 11bln, followed by the Health sector at Shs 4.8bln, Production and Marketing Shs 1.5bln, Works and Technical Services Shs 1.7bln, Finance Shs 219mln and Statutory Bodies Shs 485mln.

The council allocated Shs 957mln under Water and Sanitation, Natural Resources Shs 472mln, Community Base Services Shs 204mln, Internal Audit Shs 31mln, Planning Sector Shs 312mln meanwhile Trade, Industry and Cooperatives took the smaller share of Shs 87mln.

However, only a little money allocated under Trade, Industry and Cooperatives will go to support the 14 fully registered SACCOs and 917 Village Savings and Loans Associations [VSLAs] in the district.

Commenting on the district budget, Stephen Otim Puli, Chairperson Abapiri Oil Seed Cooperative Society Limited said the money allocated under Trade and Cooperatives is so meagre to support the sector in the district. He asked district leaders to consider allocating more funds in subsequent financial year to develop cooperatives in the district

“The district should have considered cooperatives among the key sectors like education, health and roads which took more funding. The funds for the cooperatives sector are too meagre to support the development of cooperatives in the district. Talk about trainings of cooperatives, seed distribution and taking cooperatives for exchange visits but they are only thinking about their allowances,” he said.

Also commenting about the new district budget, Emmanuel Felix Okwanga, Kwania District Commercial Officer said the funds allocated under commercial department are inadequate to handle most of its activities.

“The district allocated us [Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives sector] a budget of Shs 87mln of which Shs 67 is for wages and salaries for the staff. That there is no money for tourism and private Sector development and other logistical support for monitoring,” he said.

Adding that, “The ongoing activity is the Parish Development Model [PDM] but we don’t have any budget for monitoring PDM activities. We need to do financial literacy but we are incapacitated,” he said.

On her part, Joan Nighty Abutu, Secretary Production and Marketing at Kwania District Local Government said the Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives sector would be reconsidered in the subsequent budget for the financial year 2025/2026.  Abuto said, the district has already disbursed PDM money into the 49 PDM SACCOs in the district, pending disbursement to individual accounts.

“I know most beneficiaries have learned lessons. In the first phase, some PDM SACCO leaders were arrested over extortion of money from beneficiaries while some were arrested for receiving more than Shs 1mln in the same households,” she said.

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