The Auditor General, John Muwanga has revealed that government is likely to lose over Shs 28bn in funds that were given to youth groups under the youth livelihood programs since 2014.
This was highlighted in the 2018 Auditor General’s report that was Friday handed over to the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga as provided by the Constitution.
The report noted that whereas Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development had budgeted for a total amount of Shs 231.2bn for the financial year 2013/2014 to financial year 2017/2018, only Shs 161.1bn (69.7%) was released to the program resulting in a shortfall of Shs 70.1bn (30.3%).
As a result, only 15,979 (67%) of the proposed 23,850 projects were funded. This affected the number of youths who had been targeted by the program by benefiting only 195,644 out of 286,200 youths, (68%) by 30th June, 2018.
“From a total amount of Shs 38.8bn that was disbursed to 5,505 Youth Investment Groups (YIGs) in the financial years 2013/2014 and 2014/2015, on average, only 26.7% was recovered from the youth countrywide,” Muwanga said.
He added, “There is high probability that the balance of almost Shs 28.4bn may never be recovered as almost 64% of the sampled projects, consisting of 71% value of loans were non-existent. Another 25% was reportedly embezzled or diverted the funds.”
Muwanga observed that in the financial years 2015/16 to 2017/18, out of a total amount of Shs 83.3bn disbursed to 10,444 youth groups, there was a noted improvement of recoveries ranging from 24% in 2015/16 in 2017/18 which is still below satisfactory performance.
“Out of the total amount of Shs 18.1bn recovered from the YIGs at the time of audit, Shs 16.1bn (90%) had been transferred to the Revolving Fund in BOU according to the guidelines.”
“Besides, only Shs 8bn had been revolved to the Youth Groups. Delay in revolving funds to other eligible groups undermines the ultimate goal of the program.”
President Yoweri Museveni’s critics have always downplayed the significance of giving handouts to youth groups which they say is less likely to result in economic sustainability in the long term. In some incidents, the President has supported youth groups only for the projects to vanish in a matter of months. There have also been reports that some heifers and goats given to youths under the Operation Wealth Creation programs have been sold, contrary to the intended rotational benefit.
However, the President argues that his support to such projects is premised on the need to enable youths access capital to start projects that will create jobs for the unemployed. He has also supported numerous skilling projects which he believes should reduce on the bulk of products that Ugandans import annually.