Findings of an investigation carried out in October and November last year by a local research anti-corruption NGO, reveal political manipulation, interference and connivance, which has led to gross abuse and plunder of the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) funds in Agago and Pader districts.
This is not a new finding about the blatant abuse of the government project money. Neither is it unique to Agago and Pader districts. This “scramble and swindle” of the YLP money is happening across the country in districts that have received the money.
Previous reports by various authorities and organisations, including the Auditor General, have pointed out the theft and zero recoverability of the YLP funds countrywide.
The mode of stealing the money is the similar. The youth form groups and after receiving the money, they share it or divert it to other personal targets other than the projects upon which government released the money. They close the groups and disappear. No guarantors to be pursued for recovery of the lost money.
This kind of scam has denied genuine youth from accessing money for productive activities because the funds are given to sham groups, who engage in non-economic activities.
The latest finding in Agago and Pader just confirmed the long existing suspicion that local leaders collude with the youth groups to steal government money.
The NGO’s report quotes district leaders citing interference and manipulation by local politicians in formation of youth groups and the distribution of the money.
This LYP fund was established by government for the unemployed youth to access soft loan to start income generating projects to fight poverty and unemployment.
More than Shs300b have been sank into this project since 2013 when it was created, but no tangible reduction in poverty or creation of jobs has been seen among the youth who received the money. This means that all the billions of shillings that have been injected into YLP have been wasted.
Government should scrap LYP fund, return to the drawing board and rethink a better strategy of how to finance youth projects with clear and proper guarantees on disbursement and recovery of the borrowed money.
The current YLP has not and will not achieve anything in fighting poverty and unemployment among the youth. It will only be providing them more money to steal. In the alternative, government should partner with banks, with some little incentive to cover administration costs, to manage the disbursement and recovery of the loans. Banks have experience in managing credit and will do a better job for the country.