The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has asked the Ministry of Gender to simplify the registration process of women groups applying for funds under the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP).

Kadaga said that bureaucracy involved in the registration is hindering women from benefiting from the Fund.

“These women have so many groups but the bureaucracy in accessing the fund is too much. Let the process be simplified,” said Kadaga.

Kadaga made the remarks while launching the first joint monitoring programme of UWEP which is being carried out by Parliament under the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) and MoGLSD in Kamuli district on 17 August 2018.

“I thank the Ministry [of Gender] for involving Parliament because in our last meeting, there was a complaint that there was a gap between the MPs, programme implementers and the beneficiaries,” said Kadaga.

The Treasurer of UWOPA, Hon. Dorothy Azairwe (NRM, Kamwenge district) raised the concern over the delay in disbursement of the funds to the groups, which she said affects projects.

“By the time the groups receive the money, they would have given up,” she said adding that, “Some projects are time bound and by the time the money is sent, it will not serve the intended purpose.”

She further accused focal persons who include Sub County Chiefs and Community Development Assistants of extorting money from the women so as to help them open accounts and benefit from the Programme.

“Since a sub county chief is a signatory to the group, they ask for transport from the women. The women are forced to borrow this money, in the end, the money is deducted from the fund and it affects their projects,” said Azairwe.

She asked the Ministry of Gender to ensure that such gaps are addressed to allow women maximize benefits of the fund.

UWEP Manager, William Tumwiine, blamed the delay in registration of women groups and disbursement of funds on the Local Government. He explained that the Ministry of Gender takes 10 days to give feedback upon registration and seven working days to disburse funds to the Local Government accounts.

He also said that some Chief Administrative Officers and financial officers fix the money meant for women groups, citing Moroto district where funds had not been disbursed since March last year.

He also gave assurances that the Ministry will take action against Sub County Chiefs and Community Development Assistants who are found extorting money from the women.

“Where we have found it, we take prompt action. In one of the districts, we caused interdiction of a Parish Chief and we recovered funds,” said Tumwiine.

He however noted that there is low absorption rate of the fund among some of the districts. He said this is largely caused by the delay in mobilization of women groups and submission of files.

UWEP that was started in 2015 under the MoGLSD, was piloted in 20 districts including Kamuli and later rolled out to the rest of the country.

UWOPA and the Ministry of Gender are currently carrying out a joint monitoring visit to the various projects in Busoga Sub region.

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