"Most of the youth don’t want to pay back the money. Some run away when we go to collect the money from them."
A total of sh2b youth livelihood program (YLP) funds, has been paid back to the government by different youth groups around the country.
The sh2b is part of the sh44b youth livelihood funds given to young people by the government during the 2014/2015 financial year to empower themselves economically through various economic ventures such as agriculture.
According to Mondo Kyateka, the assistant commissioner youth affairs in the ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development, the sh2b has been paid back by the youth in a period of one year.
“We are finding difficulties recovering this money. Most of the youth don’t want to pay back the money. Some run away when we go to collect the money from them,” he said.
Speaking during a youth meeting in Kampala organized by Oxfam Uganda, Mondo however warned that the government will not hesitate to lock up youth who fail to pay back the money, saying the money is needed to empower other youth.
Officially launched in 2014, the government allocated sh250b for the project which is being rolled out in a phased manner for a period of five years.
The program targets youth involved in agricultural projects, vocational skills, ICT and agro –forestry, among other income-generating projects.
Peter Kamalingin, the country director Oxfam-Uganda, commended the government for the youth livelihood project, saying youth should be empowered to unlock their financial potential.
“For any development, government must focus on youth empowerment because they affect economic development of a country,” said Kamalingin.
He noted that neglecting the youth poses a great danger to any country since young people play a major role in the labor force, adding that they are also a voting bloc for the politicians.
The acting commissioner youth and children affairs in the ministry of labor, Fred Onduli, said there is need by the government to change the attitude of youth towards work for economic development.
“I think it is time for us to invest more in the mindset and attitude of the youth," he said.
"Most of the initiatives we have used have not worked. Youth have been given money to empower themselves but they end up disappearing.
"Youth need more than money and skills and so we should invest in attitude change for the youth to embrace economic development,” said the official.
Representing the youth, Jacob Eyeru advised the government to consider extending tax holidays to young entrepreneurs to encourage local investment.
“We should create an environment in which young people’s investments should last for long.
Government should introduce tax holidays for the young people and not only the already established foreign investors,” said Eyeru.