KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Anita Among has directed the Ministry of Education to take over the disbursement of cash relief of teachers in private schools with immediate effect.
Recently, GiveDirectly, a Non-Governmental Organization donated Shs30 billion cash relief to government to enable private school teachers recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cabinet had charged the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development with the responsibility of identifying the private school teachers and subsequently disburse the funds to the said beneficiaries.
However, during the Wednesday, February 2, 2022, plenary sitting, the Deputy Speaker directed that the Ministry of Education takes full charge while Ministry of Gender retains the oversight role.
“We need guidelines on how this money is going to be given out. Ministry of Education should take lead in the process of giving out this money and the devolution of power using administrative structures that know private schools in the districts must take a lead in identifying the beneficiaries of this money,” Among said.
Among’s directive was informed by the MPs’ debate on the report of the joint committee on Public Accounts (Central and Local Government) that cited irregularities in the COVID-19 relief beneficiary lists that was implemented by the Gender Ministry.
“I am worried whether we should continue to give the Ministry of Gender the money for private school teachers. We need to fully involve the Ministry of Education because there is a commissioner who sits in the Ministry of Education who is fully in charge of private schools,” Hon. Catherine Lamwaka (NRM, Omoro District) said.
Hon. Lillian Aber (NRM, Kitgum District) said that the mistakes witnessed in the COVID-19 relief fund should not be replicated in the new cash transfers to private school teachers.
“We adopted the decentralization policy but I don’t understand why we want to do things from the centre and always be reactionary. We have a problem of keeping data and rushing to do things before analyzing the impact. I am proposing that money for private school teachers should be sent through their CAOs because they have all the records of the teachers,” Aber said.
The Chairperson of PAC (Central), Hon. Medard Sseggona who presented the joint report noted that the process of identification of beneficiaries and distribution of the Covid-19 relief funds was marred by several anomalies, segregation and lack of coordination and supervision from the district leaders, in total disregard of the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
The committee in their report also noted that whereas town clerks were supposed to be in charge of compilation of the list of beneficiaries, they relinquished and delegated their responsibility to their juniors who abused and manipulated the exercise by registering themselves, their relatives, friends and other persons who were not eligible.
“The committee recommends that the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development holds accountable all town clerks who negated on their roles and responsibilities during this exercise by delegating their functions without proper supervision as this amounted to neglect of duty,” Sseggona added.
Additionally, the committee recommended that all officers responsible for abuse of the exercise by registering themselves should be reprimanded.
The committee also noted cases of multiple payments especially in Fort Portal City and Ntungamo Municipality where more than one person per household received the funds.
There was also a case of double payment where the committee noted that about 6,000 beneficiaries were erroneously paid twice by Post Bank occasioned by glitches in the payment portal amounting to about Shs614.5million. Out of this money, Shs380million was recovered as the rest of the money had been withdrawn by the recipients.