At least 810 million shillings allotted to the presidential wealth and job creation program known as Emyooga is laying un-utilized in Bukomansimbi district with intended beneficiaries failing to access it.
Patrick Balungi, the Bukomansimbi District Commercial Officer confirms that out of their total allocation of shillings 1.08 billion, only 270 million shillings have been utilized, and that majority of the targeted groups have failed to meet the requirements to be able to get funding.
According to records at the District Commercial Office, only nine out of 36 targeted groups of beneficiaries have accessed the funds since April this year, after the money was released.
Balungi attributes the low absorption capacity to failure by the communities to properly organize their Savings and Credit Associations -SACCOs through which monies can be accessed.
The un-utilized funds are currently stuck on bank accounts, which according to Balungi can only be accessed after beneficiaries meet the conditions set by the Ministry of Microfinance.
However, during interactions with the area Members of Parliament, members of groups that failed to access the funds indicated that they were locked out by the very tight-unrealistic conditions the implementers require of them.
Vincent Ssensarire, a farmer in Kitanda sub county says many of them are frustrated by the long process involved in completing the application processes before a group can access funds.
He also indicated that some of the intended beneficiaries discouraged by the costs associated with the processes of registration and certification, under which groups were charged different fees he says are not affordable to some people.
Ssensasire questions the rationale of registering new SACCOs at constituency levels, instead of channeling the funds through Village Savings Associations that already have close linkages to members.
Patrick Kakooza and Moses Tusubira whose vanilla farmers group also made an unsuccessful attempt to access the funds, blames the poor absorption of failure by the district technical people to guide the beneficiaries on the technicalities involved in meeting the requirements. The duo challenge government to rescind some of the preconditions in the program, if it is to meet its intended objectives.
Tusibura cites the requirement for collateral of 30% savings of a total loan, one intends to borrow from the SACCO, arguing that this a deterrent to many rural communities.
Meanwhile, Veronica Nanyondo, the Bukomansimbi district Woman MP argues that the program suffers several inconsistencies that include among others huge information gaps which all affected its effective implementation in the area. According to her while locals perceived the funding as a source of seed capital, they are however disappointed that they obtain it as loans that have a very short repayment period.