The Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development [MGLSD], Ms Janat Mukwaya, has asked lawmakers on the parliamentary Gender Committee to summon her counterpart Mr Matia Kasaija, the minister of Finance, to explain the transfer of the Youth Livelihood Fund (YLF) programme to State House.
YLF was designed by government and implemented by the MGLSD in the 2013/2014 Financial Year to respond to existing challenges of unemployment among the youth but it has not been allocated in the budget since its inception, close to a decade ago.
The Shs130b total budget allocation to finance YLF activities has been shifted to State House following a presidential directive.
While appearing before the committee on Wednesday, Ms Mukwaya asked the committee to probe the minister over failure to provide funds to roll out the Social Assistant Grant for Empowerment (SAGE) countrywide.
“The minister of Finance should be called. When we established the OTT (social media tax), Parliament took a decision that the first call on that money should be on the role out of SAGE,” Ms Mukwaya recalled.
“Now the minister has raised this money and used it differently.”
“I have done my part but I am also aware that it is Parliament that appropriates. You can use that mandate to top up for SAGE and also ensure that the budget for YLP is returned to the ministry in time,” she added.
Finance ministry also trimmed the Programmes’ budget under institutional support to Shs3.3b compared to Shs7.7b that had been budgeted.
The committee chaired by Mr Alex Ndeezi (PWDs, NRM) was receiving submission on the Gender sectoral budget allocation for the next Financial Year (2019/20.)
The ministry is usually allocated Shs194.7 billion.
Mr Ndeezi, during the discussions said he was disturbed by the transfer of the funds from the Gender ministry to State House.
“We need to have clarification and confirm whether this is true and the reasons…….” Mr Ndeezi said.
“Secondly, Finance says it has allocated Shs3.3b for the programme but there is no code; I asked the clerk to write to Finance last week, asking about the code but to date, there is no reply. I don’t know how they expect us to allocate money without a code,” the lawmaker added.
Lawmakers on the committee, including Ms Hellen Grace Asamo (PWDs), Ms Lucy Akello (FDC, Amuru) and Norah Bigirwa (NRM, Buliisa), argued that the move to transfer the funds will disrupt not only recovery mechanisms but also frustrate beneficiary groups.
The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Mr Pius Bigirimana accused Ministry of Finance officials of attempting to sabotage Youth Livelihood Programme.
Mr Bigirimana told the committee that Cabinet on March 21 approved the new guidelines proposed by his ministry and since Cabinet is Supreme, Finance has no business interfering with YLP programme.
“Finance should not defy Cabinet instructions and this is a very sensitive matter; the youth of this country should not be taken for a ride,” he said.
“I do not want ministry of Finance to continue calling this a project, there is difference between a project and a programme, the children of Uganda will remain here so the programme should remain,” Mr Bigirimana added.
Ms Mukwaya reported that YLP recovery stands at 68 per cent after collecting Shs26.08b out of the Shs 50.5b that is due.
Programme. The Government earmarked Shs265b to empower poor and unemployed youth countrywide in the new programme dubbed Livelihood Programme. The programme targets unemployed youth mainly school dropouts of between 18 and 30 years.
The youth venture capital programme is administered through designated banks and the money attracts concessional interest rate. Beneficiaries can secure between Shs5m and Shs25m. These funds are paid back after the project has generated profits equivalent to the loan initially advanced to a particular youth group.