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New Policy Requires Religious Leaders to Report Offertory

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New Policy Requires Religious Leaders to Report Offertory IN uGANDA
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The government is taking steps to ensure transparency and accountability within religious organizations. The proposed policy, which is currently undergoing validation before approval by the cabinet, aims to mandate churches and mosques to report funds collected from their followers.

This initiative traces back to April 2016 when the Directorate for Ethics and Integrity (DEI) within the Office of the President initiated the development of a National Policy for Religious and Faith Organizations (RFOs). The draft policy, currently in the validation stage, seeks to foster collaboration between religious institutions and the government, promoting their active participation in various societal aspects such as social service delivery, economic development, and importantly, accountability.

Clarifying the objectives of the policy, Alex B. Okello, the permanent secretary at the Directorate for Ethics and Integrity, emphasized the necessity of transparency in managing public resources within places of worship. He clarified that the policy isn’t tantamount to taxation of religious institutions but rather aims to ensure the appropriate utilization of resources donated by believers for development purposes.

Rev Canon Aaron Mwesigye, the director for Ethics and Religious Affairs at DEI, highlighted that the policy aims to equip religious leaders with the necessary tools to collaborate effectively with the government for national development. The ongoing validation process is intended to garner ownership and input from religious leaders before the policy receives cabinet approval.

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Moreover, Rev Canon Mwesigye emphasized the importance of implementing mechanisms within religious institutions to proactively identify and address corrupt practices. He underscored the need to break the cycle of offenders being bailed out or granted bond only to continue engaging in corrupt activities.

The perspective from religious leaders reflects a collective acknowledgment of the significance of the proposed policy. Bishop Sanctus Lino Wanok of Lira Catholic Diocese expressed confidence that the policy would strengthen the fight against corruption within the church and beyond. Dr. Morris Chris Ongom, a pastor and chairperson of the National Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Lira branch, endorsed the policy, seeing it as aligning with the principles and values upheld by the church.

Rev Canon Richard Opio Atoo, Vicar of All Saints Cathedral Boroboro, drew a parallel from biblical narratives to emphasize the importance of accountability and transparency in religious practices. Sheikh Ibrahim Okello, deputy District Khadi of Lango Muslim District, expressed optimism about utilizing existing structures within the Muslim community to address corruption effectively.

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