Luwero hit by Shs41m PDM scandal of ghost beneficiaries

09 Jan 2024

LUWERO: Luwero Resident District Commissioner Richard Bwabye has ordered the police to investigate the district commercial office for alleged embezzlement of funds meant for the Parish Development Model (PDM) programme.

It is alleged that at least Shs41 million was withdrawn from the accounts of several PDM Saccos and paid to beneficiaries unknown to group leaders.

The affected PDM Saccos include Migadde Parish Sacco located in Katikamu sub-county which lost Shs13 million and Buyego PDM Sacco in Ndejje town council whose Shs15 million cash was withdrawn without the knowledge of the executive committee leaders.

Other affected PDM Saccos include Kakinzi, Kalwanga, Kyawangabi and Bukammbagga all located in Butuntumula sub-county, which lost a total of Shs13 million.

Bwabye explains that the PDM Sacco executive committee leaders detected the unsuspicious withdrawals after they checked balances and found less amount of funds on their bank accounts.

Bwabye explains that the PDM Sacco leaders requested bank statements only to find out that unknown people in their groups had been paid from their accounts with the authorization of the commercial office.

He adds that the Sacco leaders petitioned his office asking him to investigate the matter and he has since tasked the police to take up the matter to prosecute the suspects.

Bwabye says that preliminary investigations indicate that an officer at the district commercial office, whose identities have been withheld created a fake list of intended beneficiaries which he later approved to get the money using different Saccos as conduits of payments.

Bwabye says that they are still compiling reports from Luwero sub-county, Zirobwe, and Busiika town councils where the same trick was used to steal PDM funds from Sacco accounts.

Luwero district police commander John Ojokuna says that a file was opened up and statements recorded from PDM Sacco leaders pinning a commercial officer for embezzling the funds.

Ojokuna, however, noted that the implicated commercial officer has since gone into hiding and the police are hunting for him to explain the whereabouts of the funds.

Innocent Asaba, Luwero district chief administrative Officer was unavailable to comment on the case.

However, URN has established that upon receiving complaints of embezzlement against the commercial officer, the CAO allegedly ordered that he be transferred to Zirobwe town council but the officer has not yet reported there.

The same officer was also accused of asking for kickbacks from parish chiefs to process the loan applications for the approved beneficiaries.

In February 2022, President Yoweri Museveni launched the Parish Development Model, a program meant to eradicate poverty through the execution of development activities at the parishes.

Since then the ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development has released at least Shs 10.8 billion to 101 parish SACCO accounts in Luwero district.However, cases of extortion and embezzlement of the funds are threatening the success of the program in the district.

Last year, police in Luwero arrested two leaders of Kyetume Parish Development Model Sacco for allegedly stealing Shs 21.7 million from the beneficiaries.

The suspects admitted to disbursing less money to applicants and pocketing the balances. They were released after they committed to refunding it.

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