The government is planning to raise the age limit for older persons benefiting from the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) from the current 60 to 80 years beginning Financial Year 2019/2020, it has been revealed.
The revelation was made yesterday by the Under Secretary, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Mr Benon Kigenyi, during the second annual social development sector review workshop in Kampala.
He said the reason for raising the age limit is to help the ministry reach out to more older persons as they plan to roll out SAGE to the entire country.
“The discussions for national roll-out of SAGE have taken place with Parliament, Cabinet and development partners. It has been agreed that the age for eligibility should be raised to 80 years except for Karamoja in order to spread the programme countrywide,” he said.
He said the first sector review recommended that the ministry should support people who are more than 80 years across the country. “So, we are planning to start this (giving grants to 80-year-olds) in the next financial year and the age of eligibility will be lowered when the economy improves and more resources are secured,” Mr Kigenyi told Daily Monitor in a separate interview.
SAGE, which sees each beneficiary receiving Shs25,000 per month, has so far been implemented in 47 districts across the country.
This financial year, the government programme co-funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and IrishAid, is being extended to 10 other districts of Sheema, Dokolo, Kumi, Kasese, Sembabule, Adjumani, Alebtong, Otuke, Moyo and Mubende.
According to the Social Development Sector review report, SAGE has since its inception benefited 178,984 out of the targeted 194,808 older persons by end of the last financial year. This has so far taken Shs57.153 billion out of the targeted Shs64.10 billion, with an 89 per cent achievement rate.
According to the undersecretary, there are about 3.2 million Ugandans aged 60 and above and the available funds cannot cater for all in the age group.
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Gender, Mr Pius Bigirimana, said the SAGE beneficiaries indicated they spent the monthly allowance on buying food, healthcare and education of their grandchildren.