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Mbarara: Emyooga kick off stalls due to registration delays

Kick-off of the Presidential Wealth Creation Initiative (Emyooga) in Mbarara district has stalled due to delays in the registration process, Mbarara District Commercial officer (DCO),  Vincent Nuwagaba, has told theCooperator.

According to Nuwagaba, Mbarara district received a total of Shs 1.12 bn on 23rd December last year to cater for 36 SACCOs at a constituency level.

“We received the money for all our groups and they have already opened accounts in Post bank Uganda Ltd,” he affirmed.

However, out of the 36 newly created cooperatives, 11 are still waiting for clearance to kick start the operations.

“What we are waiting for is the registration status from the Registrar of cooperatives which haven’t come.”

Nuwagaba said his office is under pressure from the Emyooga group members eager to start utilising the cash.

“We’ve been constantly getting pressures from these SACCOs that have not yet received their registration certificates requesting for access to their bank money that was sent by the Microfinance Support Centre,” Nuwagaba explained.

Addressing the delayed registration of Emyooga cooperatives, Robert Waiswa Mpakibi, the Assistant Commissioner, Cooperatives Development at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, pointed to the Microfinance Support Centre (MSC) for a response.

“We handle issues to do with certificates with the Microfinance Support Centre. I would advise that you talk to MSC to confirm if they have submitted to our office because it’s MSC which submits to us, and then we issue certificates to the centre” Mpakibi explained.

When contacted about the same matter, Bernice Mutabazi, the regional coordinator of Microfinance Support Centre Mbarara was not forthcoming.

Existing coops left out

Meanwhile, Nuwagaba warned existing primary cooperatives not to peg their hopes on the Emyooga programme, since they are not its direct target beneficiaries.

“As you can see, under Emyooga it is the associations at the parishes coming together to form SACCOs at a constituency level, meaning that it will not benefit the already existing cooperatives,” Nuwagaba said.

He appealed to the government to consider occasionally injecting funds into the already existing cooperatives so as to increase their portfolio.

Nuwagaba urged beneficiaries of the Emyooga cash not to use it for luxury but to use it to attain social-economic development.

“Some groups are working and moving forward but others are praying hard to receive and eat this money. We want people who have understood the programme and want to continue using this money for a unified development,” he said.

Sensitisation needed

James Agaba, the Mbarara Principal Commercial Officer also confirmed that while Mbarara City already received Shs 1bn for Emyooga, the money is still inaccessible to group members until they have been sensitized about the proper use of the seed cash.

“We don’t expect people to receive this money and share it among themselves, because the policy does not allow that. Emyooga money is additional money revolved to other co-operatives and is meant to teach people how to save and work together in groups,” he said.

Lt Col James Mwesigye, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Mbarara, vowed to deal with SACCOs that default on paying back the Emyooga cash.

“We shall use the Cooperative Societies’ Act to protect the Emyooga funds. We shall not wait to see individuals infringing on some of the other group members’ savings,” Mwesigye charged.

He says the Emyooga programme is a solution to money lenders who charge exorbitant interest rates and then grab the property of Ugandans after they default on payments.

Under Emyooga, members access credit at a rate of 8% per annum, translating to about 0.7% interest per month, which is relatively cheap compared to prevailing commercial bank lending rates that stand, on average, at about 16% p.a.

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