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Gulu District SACCOs Run On Shoe-string Budget

GULU – About 30 cooperatives in the northern district of Gulu will be kneecapped financially in the 2021/2022 financial year.

They have been offered only Shs 7.9 million to run their activities all year-round, according to the approved 2021/2022 district council budget.

This shoe-string budget passed on May 10, 2021, is slightly short of Shs 4.1 million. In the financial year 2020/2021, the sector was allocated Shs 12.1 million. 

Gulu District Council passed a budget of Shs 34.2 billion on May 10, about Shs 8 billion less than the projected Shs 42.2 billion passed in the financial year 2020/2021.

The Trade, Industry and Local Development component, which has six sectors, including cooperatives, was allocated Shs 121.4 million – out of which Shs 89.6 million will pay wages. That leaves only Shs 31 million to be shared out by the six sectors.

Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the outgoing chairperson of Gulu District, attributed the budget shortfall to the reduced revenues brought on by the creation of Gulu City Administration, which became operational in July 2020. He said many district assets moved to the city.

Mapenduzi said the district used to lean heavily on revenue collections from Laliya and Unyama markets, which assets have since been taken over Gulu City administration.

“The district will have to be extremely creative to generate the required revenue. The new team will have to create an environment that will attract people to do business in the district to generate money for the district local government, otherwise, my heart bleeds,” Mapenduzi said.

“A lot will depend on our level of humility and how we can build relationships with people who have got the resources to support the district. Without that, the district cannot do much. The question will be; what will Gulu district do uniquely to attract people to the headquarters in Awach, and not stop in the city? So Gulu will be competing with Gulu city for resources,” he said.

Alfred Ocen, the District Commercial Officer, told theCooperator after the budget approval, that the money allocated for activities of cooperatives is very meagre, since a huge chunk goes to paying wages.

Ocen said the cooperative department plans to effectively supervise 12 cooperatives using the Shs 7.9 million budget allocation.

“This means we will supervise three cooperatives per quarter. But now, we have 18 Emyooga groups, plus other existing cooperatives, making a total of about 30 cooperatives in Gulu district. This means we will not be able to reach all of them,” Ocen said.

Ocen said activities of the cooperative sector include; training, registration and sensitization of other groups to form cooperatives. Given the fall in revenue streams for the district, Ocen predicts they might receive requests for registration from more than 10 groups, but may end up registering only four in the whole financial year.

“Out of the Shs 7.9 million allocated to cooperatives, Shs 3 million is supposed to be raised locally, which we may not get. And if we fail to raise money locally; we will end up working with only Shs 4 million the whole year.”

This implies that, we shall be using only Shs 1 million for a whole quarter, to train, monitor, register and do other activities. This one million is not even enough to organize one training,” Ocen said.

According to the breakdown of the 2021/2022 Gulu district budget, Education and Sports got the lion’s share of Shs 13.9 billion, followed by Administration, Shs 7.03 billion, finance Shs 552.58 million, Council and Statutory bodies Shs 729.2 million, Production and Marketing got Shs 3.9 billion, Health Shs 4.9 billion, while Roads and Engineering got Shs 1.233 billion.

The water sector will take Shs 1.001 billion, natural resources management Shs 307.3 million and, community-based services Shs 477.1 million. The planning unit will take Shs 152 million, while Shs 82.35 million has been allocated for internal audit. 

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