MASAKA: The limited number of parishes as compared to population size is limiting the effective implementation and intended benefits of the Parish Development Model-PDM program in Masaka City, the leaders have complained.
The offices of the Masaka City Town Clerks and Commercial Officers are at the height of coordinating mobilization and registration activities of beneficiaries of the PDM program project so that they are ready for funding before the end of this financial year.
But the political and opinion leaders in Masaka city are afraid that the program may fail to have the desired impact in their communities due to the current number of parishes that is not commensurate to the population size and their needs.
Mousa Wamala, an elder representative of the Masaka City Development Forum, a platform of stakeholders who act as a linkage between the leadership and the local community, says that despite its current population of close to 350,000 people, Masaka city is geographically demarcated into only 25 parishes, which will translate into little financial allocations.
According to the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development’s initial PDM disbursement schedule, Masaka City was given 434.7 million shillings, which were to be split up into 17 million shillings for each parish. This was done to set the pace for the program’s implementation.
The government has set aside 100 million shillings for each parish in the coming fiscal year to fund various enterprises as a tool to alleviate poverty in communities.
But Wamala indicates that the money allocated to the city is just peanuts compared to the population with its various demands, arguing that it is proper that the government give special consideration to the city to at least allow them to combine at most three cells into one project implementation unit for people to feel the real impacts.
According to him, the public is so eager to benefit from the PDM program that they are demanding that the government work out adjustments that can lead to a fair distribution of resources and have most of the public’s needs covered.
Florence Namayanja, the Masaka City Mayor, while speaking during the program’s stakeholders meeting, also expressed fear that limited funds are going to be scattered to a very wide population and land area, hence minimizing its implications.
She urges that with the current area of 360 square kilometers and an estimated population size of 350,000 people, it is irrational for Masaka City to have only 25 parishes, which will limit its benefit in the area.
Meanwhile, Mathias Mpuuga, the MP for Nyendo-Mukungwe city division and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament-LOP, has advised the local leadership to undertake the process of creating new local administrative units as an approach to create the necessary infrastructure for effective implementation of the program.
He explains that despite the Ministry of Local Government’s ban on the creation of new administrative units due to heavy cost implications, Parliament is vigorously engaging the relevant organs of government to find justification for rescinding the position.
Leaders in Masaka are worried because some MPs from Buganda, Busoga, and Northern Uganda have complained to parliament about how big parishes are in their areas compared to the rest of the country, which will get the same amount of money under PDM.