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Bigirimana Blasts Nantaba: You are Misleading Public on Youth Fund

Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) has clarified on claims by Minister of State for ICT and National Guidance, Aidah Nantaba that the former is misusing money meant for the Youth Venture Capital Fund (YVCF).

The fund was introduced by government as part of solving the twin-problem of unemployment and poverty among the youths in the country.

Since its inception in 2012, according to MGLSD, Shs95.7 billion has been injected in the project which target youths between 18 – 30 years of age.

While speaking at an event where her ministry was giving Shs2.5 billion to 12 ICT innovative teams that were picked to be supported by government to promote local content, Nantaba claimed that officials at MGLSD had misused the Youth Fund, prompting President Yoweri Museveni to divert his funding interests to the ICT sector instead.

She also said that it was because of failure by the current managers of the YVCF to properly channel the money into developmental and helpful ventures that most youths had resorted to labour exporting companies to secure jobs abroad.

Ministry responds

In an April 17 statement, MGLSD Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana, described Nantaba’s allegations as utterly wrong and tenuous.

“The claim that money under the Youth Venture Capital Fund has been squandered is tenuous and utterly wrong as the fund is managed by and embedded at Centenary Bank, which is the exclusive point of access for all beneficiaries,” said Bigirimana.

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“Since the inception of the Fund in the year 2012, the responsibility of overseeing the Fund has been in the hands of Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. It was only on 16th May, 2017 when this responsibility was transferred to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, upon the decision of Cabinet.”

In October of 2017, Bigirimana, on behalf of the MGLSD and Fabian Kasi, the Managing Director Centenary Bank issued a joint statement outlining how the youths could obtains the money, that is currently under the aforementioned bank, in form of loans.

Their statement indicated that a loan amount of up to Shs5 Million would be accessed to individuals — and for Partners, Cooperatives, Company or groups — up to Shs25m would be provided.

Successful applicants would be given a “Maximum loan period of 24 months for working capital and up to 48 months (4 years) for capital investment.”

The loan can be repaid monthly, termly, quarterly or bi-annually depending on the cash flows, said the statement.

For security/collateral, the statement said, “each borrower must provide two (2) personal guarantors with active accounts in Centenary Bank, good credit history in case he/she has borrowed before and with no criminal record and a floating charge on the business assets. Borrowers with acceptable alternative security may be exempted from the above requirement.”

Others terms and conditions included being able “to demonstrate evidence of having invested at least 10% of the loan amount being applied for” and accepting a “maximum grace period of one year for capital investment.”

The interest rate for the Fund is 11% per annum (computed on declining-balance basis).

The statement further revealed that eligible sectors include Trade, manufacturing, agro- processing, primary agriculture, fisheries, livestock, health, transport, education, tourism, ICT, construction, printing, and service contractors among others.

In his latest statement, Bigirimana maintains that the ministry has no control of the Fund and it is excusively under the authority of Centenary Bank.

“We wish to inform the public that selection of beneficiaries and appraisal of projects under this Fund is handled directly by Centenary Bank and there is no money under this Fund that is being ran by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. Hence the claim that the Ministry is mismanaging the Fund is erroneous,” he wrote.

According to his statement, to-date, 26,944 youth across the Country have benefited from Shs.95.7 billion under the Fund.

Labour exportation

On the issue of youths resorting to finding jobs abroad, the Permanent Secretary said that government cannot stop any one from finding a job in a country they wish, adding that as a ministry, they are just facilitating the process to ensure that Ugandans work under reasonable supervision.

“On the issue of youth going to work abroad; labour is a mobile factor of production with a will. Individuals will seek employment opportunities across borders with or without Government intervention,” said Bigirimana.

“However it’s important to note that the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has taken steps to regularize the export of labour for the obvious reason of ensuring safety of Ugandans, especially in the Middle East countries.”

He went on: “So far, Bilateral agreements have been signed with Jordan and Saudi Arabia and negotiations continue to bring onboard other countries. The key elements of these agreements are the traceability (monitoring) and safety of each worker. This is why it’s important to ensure that each Ugandan who wishes to get employment abroad, does so through the licensed companies.”

The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has been at the center of innovating programmes specifically aimed at tackling youth unemployment.

Among them is the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) which has to-date financed a total of 13,107 projects supporting 163,130 beneficiaries.

This has created self-employment opportunities and increased incomes of the youth in the rural and urban areas alike.

Other youth programmes initiated by the Ministry include the Green Jobs and Fair Labour Market Project and the National Apprenticeship Programme, which is being finalized to promote workplace skilling of youth.

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