Nine years down the road, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development is struggling to recover about Shs129b lent to young people under the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP).
YLP commenced in 2013/2014 as one of the interventions of the government in response to the high unemployment rate and poverty among the youth in the country.
This was to be done by providing affordable credit through an interest-free resolving fund.
Speaking to Daily Monitor yesterday, Mr Julius Amule, the YLP supervisor, said as of July, the government had recovered Shs40b of the Shs169.4b dispatched in Financial Year 2013/2014.
Mr Amule explained that the ministry is doing all it takes to recover the money to zero balance since other youth have to benefit from it.
“Personally, I am very happy that the youth can recover Shs40b, of all government programmes, I don’t know if there is any where they have recovered even Shs1 billion, then they have done a great job.”
However, he noted that the slow recovery progress is due to some natural calamities such as Covid-19 that affected youth projects and misuse of funds by group members.
However, Mr Amule revealed that the government has rescheduled the payment time frame for about 50 percent of the groups while others are being re-financed to restart the projects.
“What we are doing is to change the rules, this money is supposed to take three years, but because of the challenges their projects faced, we have extended the time frame for some projects to a minimum of two years,” he said.
He also attributed the slow rate of fund recovery to the 2018/2019 budget cut of 95 percent, which affected the supervision of the projects and recovery enforcement by local governments.
“We had a budget of Shs66b, it was cut to Shs3b, it was hard for us to send money to the local governments to follow up the projects because it was them following up the groups,” Mr Amule said.
He added: “You can’t expect the community development officer to walk in the sub-county on foot, because they were the ones doing enforcement of recovery, among others.”
Addressing journalists about the International Youth Day to be celebrated tomorrow in Kabale District, Ms Sarah Mateke, the Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs, said about of 258,953 youth have so far benefited from the funds.
The International Youth Day is celebrated every August 12, but was rescheduled to August 18.
Ms Mateke said they are engaging the youth on how to refund the money, adding that if it’s not refunded, it will collapse the programme.
“The challenge is that if a district doesn’t collect this money from their youth, that means the programme will end there and then they complain that there is no money for YLP,” she said.
Ms Mateke revealed that they are engaging the youth on how they can pay back the money without running after them.
According to the Auditor General’s report, as of June 30, 2022, the recovery of funds under YLP was at 23 percent.
The government had disbursed Shs164 billion, recovered Shs38b, meaning that in eight months, the government has managed to recover Shs2.1b to make it a total of 40.1b recovered as of July 2023.
The Auditor General indicated that there is a high risk that the outstanding amount may not be recovered in a timely manner given the slow progress of the recovery process, hindering the access of funds by other groups through a resolving mechanism, as had been anticipated.
In the same report, the accounting officers and Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development attributed the low recovery to disintegration of groups, on-funding of monitoring and supervision activities and staff capacity gaps in the local government.