By Umaru Kashaka
THE ministry of gender has refuted allegations made by opposition leaders on Tuesday that sh40b meant for youth projects under the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) had been diverted and used to bribe individuals to join NRM party.
Addressing journalists at the Media Centre in Kampala on Wednesday, the assistant commissioner youth affairs in gender ministry Kyateka Mondo said the allegations are not only misleading, inaccurate and unfortunate, but also tantamount to the opposition leaders’ abuse of their positions as national leaders.
“The YLP has an approved budget of sh265b for the initial 5 years beginning financial year 2013/14. For the current financial year, the programme was allocated sh19b, of which only sh15b has so far been released by finance ministry,” he noted.
He explained that the received funds were spent in putting in place systems (establishment of secretariat, development of simplified guidelines) and preparation of the districts to undertake their roles and responsibilities including mobilization and sensitization.
“This has already been done in the 27 districts under phase 1. The funds so far spent are in accordance with the approved annual work plan and budget for the operations funds for this financial year,” he stated.
Mondo said no single youth project had been funded as yet, as the first submission of approved youth projects by the districts to the ministry of gender is expected in the fourth week of this month.
“The youth shall receive support through youth groups of 10-15 members not individuals as alleged by the opposition. There is no way an individual can access the funds under YLP, except through duly selected groups,” he asserted.
He stressed that the selection of the beneficiaries, preparation, appraisal and approval of the youth project is a responsibility of the local governments; not individual person or the ministry.
The opposition leaders who included FDC’s Mugisha Muntu, DP’s Nobert Mao, UPC’s Olara Otunnu ex-and ex-FDC president Kiiza Besigye called for the suspension of the ministry’s permanent secretary Pius Bigirimana pending investigations into his role in what they called “Youthgate”.
They accused Bigirimana of acting on the instructions of the Inspector General of Police Ge. Kale Kayihura to disburse funds to arbitrarily designated individuals against the premier Amama Mbabazi’s alleged presidential bid.
They also claimed that the programme is a political slush fund or “youthgate” that had not duly been approved by Parliament and that the set procedures of accessing funds under the program had been flawed.