Last Updated on: 14th September 2022, 04:25 pm
“We want to know where the challenges in this PDM are and whether we will overcome some of them, like the issue of corruption,” Minister Akori.
- State Minister for Economic Monitoring in the Office of the President Beatrice Akello Akori was appointed by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to replace Peter Ogwang, the now State Minister for Sports in the Ministry of Education and Sports.
- The Agago District Woman MP assumed responsibilities after taking an oath of office on June 27, 2022, at State House, Entebbe.
- She was the Resident District Commissioner [RDC] for 10 years and served the people of Apac district in the same capacity.
By Milton Emmy Akwam
Kampala – Sept. 14, 2022: Minister Akori had an exclusive interview with TND News on Tuesday in which she responded to some of the key questions she was asked. Below are the Q&A excerpts:
Q. The President has entrusted you with this office. What was your reaction after the appointment?
I want to thank the President of Uganda for trusting me with this responsibility of monitoring all government programs, projects and policy implementation in this country. This is a good docket and it is in line with what I have been doing for the past 10 years when I was the Resident District Commissioner. I have been monitoring government projects, programs and policy implementation. Therefore, I will build on what I have been doing and I feel I can do it better.
Q. What key activities are before you as you move forward?
The key activities we have. We have so many government programs. My ministry with other agencies and departments came up with a monitoring tool we are going to use as we go to conduct joint monitoring in various local governments; ministries’ projects that are being implemented and even policies. So, we shall be going to the above areas and after we shall come back and segregate the information that we have got.
For those that need administrative measures, we shall handle it administratively with the line ministries, departments or agencies. For those that maybe need investigations like corruption, we shall involve the Anti-Corruption agencies to closely follow it up so that the culprits are brought to book and where the programs are not being implemented as per the objectives we shall also handle it administratively so that corrective measures are done; so that government does not waste a lot of money implementing projects that will not meet the targets.
Q. Why do you think there is an urgent need to monitor and check the different government MDAs?
It is very important to monitor. First of all, it helps the government not to lose money. When you move across the country, you may find some projects being implemented and they are white elephants. It means that either the implementation was not done in line with the objectives. So, monitoring helps to find out whether the implementation of these programs or projects is as per the set objectives and where there are deviations, remedies are got.
Q. One would say you inherited an office that was quite busy by your predecessor. What are you picking from him?
I have picked a lot from him. First of all, he was very active in the field. The proactive approach that he brought to monitoring government programs and projects. I have also picked from him the operations they did in Wakiso where he went with the Anti-Corruption agencies and surveyors, it was so good. He engaged those technical teams to ensure that whatever they are monitoring has the technical expertise, and to find out if the projects are implemented as per the objectives.
Q. Your predecessor arrested some government officials over corruption claims. Are you going to arrest more?
You know it is not us arresting. It is the Law (she avidly laughs). When you come in conflict with the Law, the Law will catch up with you. Whoever is not following the Law, the Law definitely will catch up with them.
Q. What specific research is your Directorate working on?
There are so many. Right now, on the issues about the economy, we are researching it. We have a new program, the Parish Development Model (PDM) now being implemented. We are also researching it to find out whether the plans are being implemented as per the targets (or the objectives). Others like the 23 Presidential Directives, we are researching all of them to see how they are being implemented per the initial objectives set by the President. So, there is some research by this Directorate.
Q. Some experts have criticized PDM; they are now being joined by the citizens. Does this bother you?
You know, beginning a program is not easy at times. Even at home, for those who have just gotten married, starting a new life as a couple is not easy and that does not mean you abandon each other. You get the challenges and correct them and that is why we are researching PDM.
According to me, this Model is very good only that we need to find out where are the challenges and how can we overcome these challenges, and that is what we are interested in as a Directorate.
We want to know where the challenges in this PDM are and whether we will overcome some of them, like the issue of corruption. Money now will be channeled directly to those parish SAACOs, it will not pass through the district and the sub-county. We need to intensify the training of the leadership of the SAACOs and communities to embrace this PDM.
I have been moving in communities. A case in point is my district (Agago) where most of our communities normally tell us that ‘we don’t benefit from the government program, there are only a few categories of people who normally benefit’ and to me, I feel that PDM is a solution because it is going directly to the village, going directly to the parish where these villagers are.
The PDM has come for the 39 per cent of the families who have not yet been in the money economy and by taking the program directly to the parishes; the government is targeting those people. To me, I feel even if this PDM has challenges, those challenges will be addressed and it will succeed like other government programs.
Q. Talking about your district, are there specific interventions for your women voters?
First of all, as a woman, they look at me as a role model. Therefore, as a role model, I need to set targets for myself and them. I need to set something that they will follow. I am looking for scholarships for the girl child.
We are encouraging the girl child not only to go to school but to complete their studies and in doing so I am giving myself as an example. ‘I went to school, I studied and completed and that is why I am the way I am today.’
Not only that, I need to help them to improve on their businesses, sitting with them and discussing how they can do business (even on the radios I teach them).
Q. What legacy do you want to leave behind after this office?
I want this office to be known for saving the government’s money. That is the main thing. When we conduct effective monitoring, we save the government from financial loss. For instance, if money is taken to Agago district for the implementation of the PDM and we do effective monitoring, people who want to divert the money will fear because they know we will follow them up.
Q. Finally, the government is moving to merge some of the MDAs. Do you think when this is done it is going to save the government a lot of money and where should the saved money be put?
To some extent, it will save money because there are some MDAs that are duplicating each other’s work (For example?) We have the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) as an agency of the government and we have the Ministry of Energy and Minerals Development.
When we look at the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and Ministry of Works and Transport (MoWT), the Ministry of Works is almost left without any role.
The major work is being done by UNRA and why can’t we put both of them under one body, to closely monitor the activities they do instead of dividing them?
You know the way parastatals pay their staff; their salaries are huge compared to ministries’ officials. It will save money and for hiring other offices when they can work together under one ministry.