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 KAMPALA. More than 260,000 elderly persons are set to benefit from the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) as government rolls out the programme to 20 more districts, State minister for Elderly and Disability Sulaiman Madada announced yesterday.

He said the government will beginning May 23 pay 100 elderly persons per sub-county from the 20 new districts, in addition to the 15 that have been receiving the grant since 2011. “The expanding social protection programme has been undergoing transitions from the pilot to roll out in the next phase. This means a number of changes in the programme expanding from 15 to 35 districts this year alone. Re-alinging programme operations from district to regions and recruitment of a new payment service provider,” Mr Madada said. Under the SAGE programme, government, through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development provides monthly grants of Shs25,000 to older persons aged 65 and above but 60 years in case of Karamoja.

More districts every year
While addressing district technical leaders on SAGE implementation in Kampala, Mr Madada said five more districts will be added onto the programme every financial year starting 2016/17 until 2019/20 with a view of enabling the elderly to access basic services and to start income generating activities. “I want to caution the chief administrative officers to desist from using peoples’ ignorance to divert these funds. Anyone found culpable will be dealt with unless courts exonerate them,” the minister said.
Mr Madada revealed that the ministry has signed a contract with Post Bank Uganda as a new payment service provider. He said the bank will take over the payment service role from telecom firm MTN Uganda that has been delivering the grants using MTN mobile money.
Hajat Safina Wabuna, the bank’s executive director in charge of operations and ICT, said they will capture the details of the beneficiaries during the payments to complete the account opening process. “We shall be reaching people by use of our mobile banking vans to the different pay points as guided by the ministry,” she said.
Mr Pius Bigirimana, the Gender ministry permanent secretary, said arrangements have been made to ensure success of the programme. “We have oriented and trained district political and technical leadership on SAGE implementation in the 20 districts.

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