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MPs protest transfer of youth funds to State House

By Moses Mulondo

Added 30th January 2019 12:11 PM

Whereas in the recent years government has been annually allocating sh50b towards the Youth Livelihood Fund project, for the 2019/2020 financial government plans to increase it to sh130b.

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Whereas in the recent years government has been annually allocating sh50b towards the Youth Livelihood Fund project, for the 2019/2020 financial government plans to increase it to sh130b.

PIC: File photo

Members of Parliament on the budget committee are opposed to the proposal to transfer the Youth Livelihood Fund project to State House.

In a document the state minister for finance David Bahati submitted to the budget committee last week, the finance ministry proposed to have the Youth Livelihood Fund transferred to State House for better management.

Whereas in the recent years government has been annually allocating sh50b towards the Youth Livelihood Fund project, for the 2019/2020 financial government plans to increase it to sh130b.

Sources in the finance ministry revealed that the extra resources to the Youth Fund have been cut from NAADS budget.


According to the budget framework paper, government has reduced the budget for NAADS, which is predominantly for procuring agricultural inputs, from sh249.9b allocated in 2018/2019 year to sh99.9b in the 2019/2020 financial year.

In an interview with the New Vision, the budget committee vice chairman Patrick Isiagi Opolot said, “From the meeting we had with the team from the ministry of finance, committee members vehemently opposed the proposal to transfer the youth funds to State House.”

Opolot said they believe once the funds are transferred to State House the money will be misinterpreted to be part of freed funds the president dishes out to various groups yet the Youth Livelihood Fund is a resolving fund which requires those to whom it is given to pay it back  for others to benefit. 

The Nakaseke South MP, Paul Kasana Luttamaguzi, who is also a member of the budget committee, said, “Obviously, the proposal to transfer the funds to State House is meant to serve personal political interests for President Yoweri Museveni to buy support from the youth and because of that the money will be abused. That is why we are opposed to the transfer.”

Asked to explain why the finance ministry was proposing to transfer the youth funds to State House, the commissioner for budget policy Godwin Kakama said, “It is not us who make those decisions.

For us we put money where they tell us to put it. But I heard one of the reasons is that under the ministry of gender the money was being misused. I don’t know what the other reasons could be.”

Following the transfer, the budget for the ministry of gender, labour and social development has been reduced from sh214.7b allocated in the current financial year to only sh162.8b in the 2019/2020 financial year.

From 2014 when the Youth Livelihood Fund started, Bigirimana said the project has been given a total of sh161b.
According to the 2017/2018 Auditor General’s report which was presented to the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga three weeks ago, only sh10.4b (26.7%) of the sh38.8b Youth Livelihood Fund loans given out in the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 financial years was recovered.

The report also indicated that a total of sh161b has been allocated to the Youth Livelihood Fund project since its inception in the 2013/2014 financial year.

“There is high possibility that the balance of almost sh28.4b may never be recovered as almost 64% of the sampled projects, consisting 71% value of loans, were non-existent.


Another 25% had reportedly been embezzled or diverted funds,” the Auditor General stated.

The Auditor General noted that out of sh18.1b recovered from various groups, sh16.1b had been transferred to the Revolving Fund account in Bank of Uganda.

“But only sh8b had been revolved to the other groups. Delay in revolving funds to other eligible groups undermines the ultimate goal of the programme,” the Auditor General stated.

The Auditor General however noted that the performance of the fund had greatly improved in the 2017/2018 financial year. 

Asked to comment on the proposal to transfer the youth fund to State House, the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development, Pius Bigirimana said, “I have no comment on it.”

But later he opened up and wondered why anyone would think the project is being mismanaged when the youth groups have returned 70% of the money that is due.

“I don’t know whether the money was transferred to State House.

What I can assure you is that for us we shall continue managing the funds already allocated to the project. The revolving fund of money that has been retuned by groups and redistributed to other groups is in the range of sh130b,” Bigirimana stated.

 

 

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