KAMPALA, November 23, 2023 – Members of Parliament have called for improved access to banking institutions to enable beneficiaries of the Parish Development Model [PDM] programme to receive funds.
The MPs, who were debating the Report of the Committee on Public Service and Local Government on the status of the implementation of the PDM, said this will ensure the success of pillar three of the programme that provides for financial inclusion, which seeks to increase access and utilisation of financial products and services.
During the debate yesterday, MPs mentioned challenges facing the successful implementation of the programme that consumes over Shs 1 billion every financial year.
Bosco Okiror, the Usuk County MP said implementation of PDM in districts like Kapelebyong, Amuria and Katakwi, has been hampered by absence of banks.
“There is no bank in the vicinity of the residents of these areas and people have to trek to neighbouring districts like Soroti in order to access money,” Okiror said.
Butaleja District Woman Representative, Florence Nebanda, said the district has no banking institutions, forcing residents to travel all the way to Mbale City to receive money.
“And for those who manage to access the bank, they find a lot of red tape which causes frustration. There is need to engage the banks more, to provide faster services to the beneficiaries,” said Nebanda.
Maracha District Woman MP, Jennifer Driwaru said beneficiaries of PDM funds often spend nights in neighbouring Arua and Koboko districts, waiting to receive money.
Responding to the concerns of the legislators, Speaker Anita Among advised the Minister for Local Government to push for mobile banking services in districts that do not have banking institutions.
“You must deal with banks that can take money to the beneficiaries, to help them avoid the long treks and spending nights at verandas of banks,” Among said.
Committee Chairperson, Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, said some banks have provided gadgets to SACCOS registered under the programme, to ease processes.
“In August 2023, Postbank developed the Wendi platform as a mobile wallet to enable beneficiaries to access the funds without going to the bank. Other banks had also developed apps [applications] for PDM and some were already rolling them out,” Mapenduzi said.
He observed that participating banks had agreements with government to avail easy access to financial support by integrating their systems with those of PDM, where in return, banks would charge some fees to realise profit.
He added that the presidential directive that all PDM services are free and beneficiaries ought to get all of the Shs1 million, left the banks demotivated.
“There should be an engagement between government [Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Local Government] and the banking institutions to address concerns arising from departure from the earlier terms and conditions with the banks,” reads a recommendation in the Committee report.
Peter Ocen, Kole South County MP asked for the facilitation of parish chiefs and sub-county chiefs, to tackle cases of extortion from beneficiaries for services.
Laura Kanushu, the PWD Representative and Akol Anthony, the Kilak North County MP called for the intensification of mindset change activities to guide beneficiaries on the proper utilisation of PDM funds.
The Minister for Local Government, Raphael Magyezi said he will present a comprehensive report to Parliament every six months, on the performance of the PDM programme.
The PDM was launched in February 2022 to help move 3.5 million households still in the subsistence economy to the money economy, through the agricultural value chain, including growing coffee, bananas, fruits, and grains, as well as establishing diary farming, fish farming, piggery, and poultry projects, among others.
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