Beneficiaries of the Parish Development Model (PDM) in Kole District have accused their leaders of mismanaging the funds intended to support their transition from a subsistence to a cash-based economy. The allegations came to light during a monitoring visit by a team from the Directorate of Socio-Economic Monitoring and Research, Office of the President, on Friday.
The team, led by the Minister of State for Economic Monitoring, Ms. Beatrice Akello Akori, is currently overseeing the implementation of various government projects and policies in the Lango Sub-region.
During the visit to Kole, the Ogwang-Acuma Ward PDM Sacco in Aboke Town Council revealed disturbing findings. Mr. Michael Opio, the chairman of this particular PDM Sacco, disclosed that their group received a total of Shs106 million. However, he informed the monitoring team that the money allocated to beneficiaries had been significantly reduced.
Applicants who requested Shs1 million were reportedly told they were too poor to receive that amount, resulting in reductions to Shs300,000, Shs500,000, or Shs600,000. It was noted that the reductions were imposed without the applicants requesting lower amounts.
Furthermore, when Sacco leaders raised concerns with the district authorities, they were reportedly arrested and detained at Kole Central Police Station for two days. However, they were later released without facing any charges.
Kole North Member of Parliament, Dr. Samuel Opio Acuti, pointed out that irregularities in the PDM program’s implementation were widespread across various PDM Saccos in the area. He revealed instances of double payments, with some beneficiaries receiving more money than they were supposed to.
Dr. Opio emphasized that these irregularities were not limited to Sacco funds but extended to bank transactions, where large sums of money were withdrawn without proper authorization and then returned. He alluded to the possibility of collusion between banks and local leaders in misappropriating PDM funds.
Mr. Esau Ekachelan, the Chief Administrative Officer, stated that Kole District had received Shs5.6 million for the PDM program. He noted that a significant portion of the funds had already been disbursed, and the district was making progress in implementing the program.
He highlighted the importance of cooperation among leaders to address challenges affecting the implementation of government projects, programs, and policies in Kole District. Mr. Ekachelan welcomed guidance from oversight units like the Anti-Corruption Unit and the Economic Monitoring Unit, emphasizing the need for constructive solutions and not just the identification of problems.
Mr. Ekachelan also expressed confidence in the district’s commitment to transparency and denied allegations of corruption, emphasizing that any challenges were being addressed.