During the Barraza, the Minister learned that the community members had been told to pay money by the SACCO leaders, the Parish Development Committees, and some LCI Chairpersons to enable them to access PDM funds.
The Minister of State for Fisheries, Hellen Adoa Abeku has
ordered the Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization (SACCO) leaders in
Serere to refund money allegedly extorted from residents seeking
to benefit from the Parish Development Model (PDM) program.
The orders were made during a Barraza at Olobai- Kasilo Primary
School in Bugondo Sub County on Thursday. During the Barraza, the Minister learned that the community members had been told to pay money by the SACCO leaders, the
Parish Development Committees, and some LCI Chairpersons to enable them to access
For example, in Agulei Parish, the SACCO Chairperson, Joseph
Felix Emasu allegedly extorted more than 1.2 million Shillings from his members
when he asked them to pay 12,000 Shillings each for files and photocopying
documents while applying for PDM funds.
It was reported that although the files and photocopying of
documents cost only 4,100 Shillings, Emasu charged 12,999 Shillings to all the 104 members who applied
for PDM cash in the parish.
When tasked to explain how he arrived at the decision to charge 12,000 Shillings, Emasu said that the decision was a consensus
within his SACCO committee.
The Minister gave Emasu one week to refund the excess money
he collected from the members of his parish.
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In Otimong Village, the LCI Chairman, Joshua Okwi was also put
on the spot for allegedly extorting 10,000 Shillings from every member of his
village in order to access the PDM funds. Although Okwi failed to appear at the
Barraza, the Minister directed the Police in Serere district to follow up with
all the persons alleged to have extorted money.
Last month, Adoa ordered the arrest of some Parish
Chiefs and the Parish Development Committees over similar allegations in
addition to flouting the PDM guidelines. The accused persons allegedly paid
ghost beneficiaries in Osokotoit and Aisin A villages and also sidelined two
villages of Okulukulun and Atapar while selecting beneficiaries for funding.
Saulo Musasizi, the Serere District Police Commander (DPC) told
the Minister that after the arrests, they recorded statements where
the suspects reportedly agreed to refund the PDM money.
Musasizi also told the Minister that they are probing
different sub-counties in the district after opening a General Inquiry File on
the PDM management.
Since July this year, Adoa has been engaging the communities
in different sub-counties in Serere over the PDM management in the parishes.
The Barraza engagements started in Kidetok Town Council before Kateta and
Bugondo in August and September respectively.
Serere district has received more than seven billion
Shillings of PDM from the Ministry of Finance but has only been able to
disburse UGX. 342 Million in the first batch of payment.
The district approved
1,139 vouchers for payment out of 7,096 people beneficiaries captured in the system
by August 2023.
The Parish Development Model is a Government strategy or
approach for organizing and delivering public and private sector interventions
for wealth creation and employment generation at the parish level as the lowest
economic planning unit. It has seven pillars ranging from production, storage,
processing, and marketing; infrastructure and economic services; financial
inclusion; social services; mindset change; parish-based management information
system to governance and administration.
However, PDM implementation has been met by several concerns
including alleged extortion, system breakdown causing delays, and lack of the
required tools and equipment like computers in parishes and sub-counties to
ease the registration processes.