Corruption scandals mar Youth Livelihood Programme

Corruption scandals mar Youth Livelihood Programme
Pius Bigirimana, the Ministry of Labour, Gender and Social Development’s Permanent Secretary

Local government officials have been pinned for violating guidelines of the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP), a revolving government initiative targeting the poor and unemployed youth.

The Programme, implemented under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development had an initial budget of 265 billion Shillings over a period of five years. The money was advanced to the Youth Interest Groups to harness their social-economic potential and increase self-employment opportunities and income levels.

But according to Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, the initiative suffered setbacks as a result of corruption, collusion, and misappropriation, instituted by local government officials.

In Katakwi district for instance, the chairperson of Usuk Sub County colluded with his son to hijack a youth group project worth 10 million Shillings. He was later arrested and a total of 7 million Shillings has so far been recovered from him.

In Gulu, a total 256 million Shillings meant for youth groups approved was withdrawn at once by the district cashier supposedly to be distributed to groups but was misappropriated, while in Sironko, a total of six million shillings was swindled by the OC CIID who had recovered it from a youth group. The officer had recovered Seven million Shillings from a group that had diverted it but only declared one million Shillings.

Similar cases were recorded in Kole, Namayingo and Mubende districts where officials were interdicted for manipulating youth groups and swindled the money. Several others have been dragged to the anti-corruption court for trial.

According to Bigirimana, administrative measures and police actions were instituted top recover millions of funds that had been swindled.

Bigirimana was delivering the cumulative update on the progress in implementing the program during the ongoing national review workshop at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kampala. The review is attended by Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs), District Chairpersons, Resident District Commissioners (RDCs), Focal Point Persons and Youth Chairperson.

Since the inception of the project, a total of 97.5 billion Shillings had been disbursed to finance 13,107 projects. However, only 149 have fully paid back the money. According to ministry’s implementation progress report, the majority of the beneficiaries have been school dropouts at 34.5 percent followed by those that have completed primary education at 19.6 percent. Of the overall beneficiaries, 2.8 percent is a youth with disabilities.

Despite the challenges, Bigirimana says there are significant achievements seen through the fund’s recovery at 67 percent. He notes for instance that all the districts have reached 50 percent repayment of the amount due.

Lwengo District Chairman George Mutabaazi, also the Uganda Local Government Association (ULGA) chairperson warned youth against signing for the money which they have not taken.

But Lillian Aber, the National Youth Council chairperson says YLP has not been receiving the needed funds timely. She calls for prioritization and more funding to the youth projects.