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Denzel Musumba

Denzel Musumba


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Early this week, plans got underway to roll-out a national social protection system, the first of its kind in Uganda. After years of conceptualisation, the ambitious project will be implemented in 14 pilot districts across the country and later spread out to other areas. Shs22,000 per month will be provided to over 600,000 people in 95,000 households. Development partners have contributed a grant of Shs14 billion for five years towards the scheme. Efforts have also been made to ensure that corruption and political influence tendencies are kept away from the scheme. Much as the move is commendable, the meagre amount that will be paid out might not render the scheme worthwhile, at least for now. Considering the spiralling cost of living in Uganda, Shs22,000 per month is inadequate by any standards; even more if we are to factor in the cost of transferring or distributing this cash to the recipients. An amount that hardly contributes to the substantial betterment of its recipients, might not only be abused but perceived as an insult. If we were to consider paying out one dollar per day at the current exchange rate of about Shs2,250 for every dollar, we would need to pay-out at least Shs67,500 per month. The proposed Shs22,000 pay-out does not even make up half of what would be dished out if the one dollar-a-day rate were to be considered. The social protection scheme seeks to pay out grants to two categories of vulnerable people. The Old Age Grant is intended to be paid out to elderly citizens above 65 years, while the Vulnerability Grants will be paid out to labour constrained households, such as those headed by the disabled, orphans and widows. If the intention is to target the chronically poor in Uganda, at least let the monthly payment be determined on the one dollar-a-day rate. Anything less than that will in all likelihood defeat the logic of the social protection system.