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Leaders fault lockdown for poor Emyooga show

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By George Muron

Soroti city leaders have attributed the poor performance of Emyooga-funded projects to the Covid-19 preventive measures that included two nationwide lockdowns.

Government rolled out the Emyooga programme in 2019 with Shs140 billion earmarked for 17 Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisations (Saccos) in each district. The Saccos are registered in the categories of carpenters, salon operators, journalists, tailors, mechanics, produce dealers, youth leaders, women entrepreneurs, market vendors, and fish mongers, among others.

The grants received typically ranges from Shs30 million to Shs50 million, with the registered member associations benefiting from a reduced interest rate of 8 per cent per annum. In Soroti City, the money was disbursed when the country was enforcing strict Covid-19 standard operating procedures (Sops).

However, since the government wired the Emyooga money to respective group bank accounts through the Microfinance Support Centre (MfSC), there has been poor remittance by borrowers. The borrowers were expected to make first repayments by the first quarter of this year.

Soroti City’s commercial officer George Tukei revealed that less than Shs10 million has been recovered from the Shs1.1 billion disbursed to 36 groups in Soroti East and West divisions. Emyooga beneficiaries in the eastern city blame their travels on the lockdowns that the government has used to deal with two coronavirus waves. 

Mr Charles Stephen Elasu, the chairperson of Soroti City East Division local leaders SACCO, said the tough lockdown shut down revenue streams.

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“All businesses were closed and all citizens irrespective of their political, social and financial status were stopped from movements due to Covid-19,” he said.

Mr David Enyaku, the chairperson of Nchi Motto Investigative and Citizen Journalists’ Association, said his members reconsidered their presence in Soroti City West Journalists’ Sacco due to what he called “uncoordinated guidelines.”

Mr Paul Oiba, the chairperson carpenters Sacco in Western Division, blamed the government for the untimely delivery of good government programmes.

“Emyooga programme is a good initiative, but it was rolled out at a wrong time when candidates [were] searching for votes and citizens taking part in campaigns,” he said.

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