Information that many youth in Namutumba District vanished after receiving millions of shillings from the government Youth Livelihood Programme is disturbing. They fled to unknown places in other districts to do odd jobs.
The disappearance of the youth with taxpayers’ money proves how the Youth Livelihood Fund has been ill-secured, with government squandering billions of shillings.
The Youth Livelihood Programme was introduced in 2013 to help unemployed youth start income generating projects to improve their social economic status.
At the beginning, a staggering Shs265b was sunk into the programme and hundreds of more billions have since been poured into the Fund, and distributed to unscrupulous youth groups who have vanished without trace.
In Namutumba alone, Shs1.1b has been given out to 192 youth groups since 2014. However, only Shs669m has been recovered and the balance appears unrecoverable as the recipients cannot be traced. So government has lost more than Shs400m in Namutumba alone.
This plunder is not only happening in Namutumba, but in other districts across the country and the aggregate loss is staggering in billions of shillings.
This programme will not achieve anything unless the government addresses or closes the gaps in the recovery process, which people have exploited.
Government must put in place mechanism to ensure accountability. For example, if a youth group receives the loan, what’s the insurance to recover the money in case they default or vanish?
Many of the groups do not even have fixed places of business.
There is no strict criteria of vetting eligibility of a group before giving out money to it. Many of these groups exist only on paper and they cannot be located on the ground.
Upon receiving the money, they simply disappear and probably form another group by a different name and line up to receive another round of cash. One cannot rule out collusion between local leaders and the youth to register quasi groups, receive money, share it and disband.
Parliament should intervene and stop this plunder of public resources that could have been put to better use.