SOROTI – Authorities in Soroti city have resolved to arrest and prosecute defaulters of funds they received under the Presidential Initiative for Job Creation Programme, popularly known as Emyooga.
The decision to arrest and prosecute the defaulters was taken during a meeting held on Wednesday between the city leaders, officials from Microfinance Support Centre and Emyooga Sacco leaders.
The meeting chaired by the Resident City Commissioner Peter Pex Pak was held at the city council hall.
George Tukei, the Soroti city commercial official who also doubles the focal point person while presenting Emyooga programme performance report said the recovery rate is very low.
He said that government disbursed Shs 1.12 billion which was shared by 203 associations and 18 Saccos in the city’s two divisions, with each division getting Shs 560mln.
“We have so far recovered Shs 25.6mln from Soroti city West and Shs 23.9 mln from Soroti city East,” said Tukei, adding that they are finding it hard to recover the balance of Shs 745.3mln.
Tukei explained that there are SACCOs that have not paid even a single cent from December last year when they received Shs 30mln as seed capital.
He said that some beneficiaries are defaulting on Emyooga money intentionally claiming that it was free money and shared it among themselves.
This money is a seed capital and it’s a revolving fund meant to help you get out of poverty and improve you household income,” said Tukei.
According to Tukei, since Emyooga program came at the peak of the presidential election campaign season in 2020, most people saw the money as presidential campaign request for reelection and never bothered to refund the money after use.
“However, Emyooga is a revolving fund and therefore borrowers are lent the money at low interest rate of 8 percent of about percent,” Tukei explained.
In order to recover the funds such that other members could benefit, the meeting resolved to arrest the defaulters.
Peter Oboi, the vice chairperson Soroti City East local leaders Emyooga SACCO said that the defaulters should be arrested and charged in the courts of law for sabotaging government programme.
This to him will serve as a lesson to people who are big headed and they don’t want to pay back the money they got from the SACCO well knowing that it’s a loan which is supposed to be paid back.
Despite their SACCO doing fairly well in terms of recoveries, Oboi said that there are some members from two associations where members have deliberately refused to pay back the money claiming that they are NRM cadres.
Esther Among, the chairperson Soroti City East produce dealers said that unless government starts arresting the defaulters, Emyooga funds won’t be recovered.
“The people have refused to listen to pleas of the SACCO executives for them to pay back the money because they are pro-NRM should be arrested,” she added.
However, the resolution to arrest the defaulters didn’t go well with Daniel Epilo, the chairperson Soroti City West vendors.
Epilo argued that the office of the Resident City Commissioner should first issue notices to the defaulters reminding them to pay back their outstanding loan and if they fail to comply, then a resolution to arrest takes effect.
Meanwhile, Frank Alengot, the Chairperson Soroti City west vendors Emyooga SACCO blamed poor recovery of Emyooga funds on lack of sensitizations.
She pointed out that the beneficiaries and the SACCO executives didn’t receive adequate training on how to manage Emyooga funds thus calling for the office of the Commercial officer and Microfinance Support center to intensify the training on financial management.
Other Emyooga beneficiaries used the excuse of Covid-19 to have failed them from paying back the money.
However, the Soroti City Resident City Commissioner Pak directed the SACCO executives to generate the list of all defaulters within one week and take to his office.
“Whoever borrowed Emyooga funds and has not paid, we shall arrest you and prosecute you in courts of law for sabotaging government program aimed at getting people out of poverty cycles,” Pak warned.
He said that he is going to use free airtime allocated to government in every media house within the City to read the names of defaulters and remind them to pay back the money.
In response to the beneficiaries excuse of Covid-19 which affected the economy, Martine Akorikin, the Emyooga regional coordinator for Teso sub-region, said Covid-19 hit the whole country while elections took nationwide therefore they should not be used as escape route.
“It is very important for people to know that this money for Emyooga is to be paid back. It’s government money and taxpayer’s money. So if you took it, you have to pay it back because this is a loan,” Akorikin said.
He revealed that the best performing SACCOs are going to receive more additional Shs 20mln as a token of appreciation from government and emphasised the culture of savings among the members.
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