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Legislators advocate for improved banking access for PDM funds

Members of Parliament have called for improved access to banking institutions to enable beneficiaries of the Parish Development Model (PDM) programme, receive funds.

The MPs, who were debating the Report of the Committee on Public Service and Local Government on the status of the implementation of the Parish Development Model, said this will ensure the success of pillar three of the programme that provides for financial inclusion, which seeks to increase access and utilization of financial products and services.

In the debate on Wednesday, 22 November 2023, MPs highlighted challenges facing the successful implementation of the programme.

Hon. Bosco Okiror (NRM, Usuk County) said implementation of PDM in districts to the North of Teso sub-region like Kapelebyong, Amuria and Katakwi, has been hampered by absence of financial institutions like banks.

“There is no bank in the vicinity of the residents of these areas and people have to trek to neighbouring districts like Soroti in order to access money,” Okiror said.

Butaleja District Woman Representative, Hon. Florence Nebanda, said the district has no banking institution, requiring residents to travel all the way to Mbale district to receive money.

“And for those who manage to access the bank, they find a lot of red tape which causes frustration. There is need to engage the banks more, to provide faster services to the beneficiaries,” said Nebanda.

Hon. Jennifer Driwaru (NRM, Maracha District) said beneficiaries of PDM funds often spend nights in neighbouring Arua and Koboko districts, waiting to receive money.

Speaker, Anita Among, advised the Minister for Local Government to push for mobile banking services in districts that do not have established banking institutions.

“You must deal with banks that can take money to the beneficiaries, to help them avoid the long treks and spending nights at verandas of banks,” Among said.

Committee Chairperson, Hon. Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, some banks have provided gadgets to SACCOS registered under the programme, to ease processes.

“In August 2023, Postbank developed the Wendi platform as a mobile wallet to enable beneficiaries to access the funds without going to the bank. Other banks had also developed apps [applications] for PDM and some were already rolling them out,” Mapenduzi said.

He observed that participating banks had agreements with government to avail easy access to financial support by integrating their systems with those of PDM, where in return, banks would charge some fees to realize profit.

He added that the presidential directive that all PDM services are free and beneficiaries ought to get all of the Shs1 million, left the banks demotivated.

“There should be an engagement between government [Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Local Government] and the banking institutions to address concerns arising from departure from the earlier terms and conditions with the banks,” reads a recommendation in the Committee report.

Hon. Peter Ocen (Ind., Kole South County) proposed facilitation of parish chiefs and sub-county chiefs, to tackle cases of extortion from beneficiaries for services.

Hon. Laura Kanushu (NRM, PWD Representative) and Hon. Akol Anthony (FDC, Kilak North County) proposed intensive mindset change activities to guide beneficiaries on the appropriate utilization of PDM funds.

The Minister for Local Government, Hon. Raphael Magyezi, said he will present a comprehensive report to Parliament every six months, on the performance of the PDM programme.

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