Raised Salaries for Police Scientists, Lawyers Trigger Borrowing Spree, Endanger SACCO

The Police Savings Association Limited (PSAL) has decried the recent salary increment for scientists and lawyers in the force for enticing them to borrow huge amounts of money yet they are still saving peanuts.

PSAL is the oldest police savings scheme which is over 20 years old but was over-shadowed by the creation of Exodus SACCO during the time of Gen Edward Kale Kayihura as the Inspector General of Police -IGP.

Edward Ochom, the retired Assistant Inspector General of Police -AIGP who still serves as PSAL Chairman Board of Directors, said at the Annual General Meeting -AGM at police headquarters that the savings scheme was headed for trouble if scientist and legal categories whose salaries were doubled keep borrowing a lot of money yet they are saving very little.

President Yoweri Museveni ordered increased salaries for all scientists in the country. This resulted into police officers at the rank of Sergeants but when they are certificate holders in Health, ICT, Engineering, and the Law to earn more than regular Assistant Superintendents of Police -ASPs.

For instance, a Sgt who is a science worker earns over 800,000 shillings while a regular ASP earns 740,000. An IT specialist, engineer, or medical graduate at the rank of ASP earns over 4.2 million shillings yet AIGPs, – the highest ranking officers/directors bag only 2.9 million shillings per month.

Ochom explained that the scientists and legal officers have been motivated by the new salaries to borrow huge amounts of money and they have resorted to loans but not saving to with the association something that is retarding its growth.

“There is a need to encourage members to save more especially the science and legal categories whose enhanced salaries have triggered high loan portfolios. This has resulted in an imbalance in the members’ loan balance which stands at Shs8,067,622,820 against members’ subscription/savings of Shs5,843,138,561. This has inadvertent repercussions on the Association’s cash flow,” AIGP Ochom said.

Nevertheless, PSAL membership has increased by 859 police officers in the last two years. This increase in PSAL membership, AIGP Ochom, said was due to members who have continuously explained the benefits of saving with the Association.

When Exodus SACCO was started, many police officers were compelled to make savings with it. But with PSAL, members join at will. Unlike Exodus SACCO which was riddled with scandal after scandal, PSAL has been free from such.

IGP Martin Ochola, who is also a PSAL member, said the Association’s existence and persistence demonstrate how police officers can organize themselves in a transparent manner to financially benefit from one another and help to make a difference in their general welfare.

Ochola explained to members that the main purpose of forming the PSAL was to mobilize invest, protect, lend, and support police officers. He added that the founders had a mission of promoting the welfare of members for prosperity and development through savings, investment support, and efficient utilization of resources to alleviate poverty.

“The founders of PSAL realized that the resource envelope from the government cannot be adequate to address all our officers’ needs. Similarly, the commercial banks’ policies with their bureaucratic and high-interest rates were hostile to accommodate our daily financial requirements. Therefore, they constituted this Association that exists to solely serve its members -owners, and not necessarily profits,” IGP Ochola said.

Ochola said he is impressed that PSAL has lived to this dream and its financial status shows that collective saving effort is the way forward in navigating tricky situations, meeting financial obligations, and building wealth.  He added that by saving money, police officers can avoid unnecessary debts and relieves stress at work.

“However, personal savings alone without proper investment cannot propel development. The task at hand, therefore, is for this Association to sensitize its members on how to convert the collective savings into collective investment in manageable projects that can be easily supervised by their family members,” Ochola said.

The IGP recommended that the Association comes up with more innovative and responsive solutions, and reach out more effectively to all Police officers especially those at the lower ranks that grapple with challenges of accommodation and financial hardships in paying school fees for their children.

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