Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Money talks, it says goodbye Youth Fund

The Youth Development Fund may soon be scrapping the bottom of the barrel because beneficiaries are not servicing their loans ÔÇô it has emerged.

 North East District Council Chairperson, Florence Mpetsane told a full council meeting  in Masunga last week that repayment of Youth Development Fund had plummeted to less than one percent for this financial year.

“The district office has managed to recover only P7 800.00 against the annual target of P1 257 600.00 for the financial year 2016/2017 and this amounts to 0.6 percent.

 Mpetsane was echoing a complaint by the Auditor General Pulane Letebele complained earlier this year that government office complexes throughout the country are turning into giant warehouses to store equipment from failed Youth Development Fund projects

 The North East district Council Chairperson urged the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture to devise new and effective strategies that are user friendly and do not require beneficiaries to walk to the offices to make payments.

She also blamed low repayment on lack of commitment by YDF beneficiaries. The Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture office is continuously making follow up on payments by issuing reminder letters,” she said.

Mpetsane revealed low repayments do not help an already difficult situation where the limited funds allocated the district office is not enough to go around most applications.

 The district has a budget of P4 million which can only fund approximately 39 of the  111 applications received by the 29th July 2016 which was the closing date for cycle one of 2016/2017 financial year.

 She explained that the remaining funds are earmarked for other YDF related activities such as training and Youth Expos.

 The Youth Development Fund which was expected to be a Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) youth draw card during the 2014 general elections has bombed and government has no plan on how to handle the fall-out.

An audit of the fund by the Auditor General has revealed that “the fund was typically plagued by high levels of arrears of loan repayments and project failures without a clear mechanism for dealing with the assets of failed projects.”

Indications are that the fund which was used in the BDP 2014 elections campaign adverts may have been a political decision which had been put together without enough planning.

The Auditor General has in the past warned that the project would fail because of the way it was run. “I have in the past commented that the operation of the fund was highly unsatisfactory because of lack of proper monitoring and mentoring of the beneficiaries on the projects financed from the Fund on a 50% grant/50% loan basis, which may result in the objectives of the fund not being achieved”, states the Auditor General in the 2015 Audit report.

The Auditor General complained that two years after the Public accounts Committee called for a stream lining of the Fund’s accounting system to allow for proper debtor accounting nothing has been done.

The 2015 Auditor General’s report has revealed that all five regions that had been selected for audits during the year show that the fund has failed. In Maun about P20 million was disbursed in loans and only P400 000 has been paid while P640 000 was the total of arrears covering the entire period from inception of the fund in 2009.”

The Auditor General noted that there was no indication that any action was being taken to follow up loan recoveries and settlement of the existing areas.

“An array of items of stores of high value, including generators, sewing machines, computer equipment, Morula oil processing machines, electronic kiln, etc totalling P34 686 from collapsed projects had been kept in a storeroom from as far back as 2013 without a plan for their disposal”, stated the report.

In Gumare personal records of the beneficiaries had not been updated to reflect the exact amounts, there were however indications of high arrears.

In Charles Hill, out of the loan disbursement of P11, 5 million only P659 000 had been repaid and P161 000 was owed as arrears. “A number of items of stores and equipment from collapsed projects had been kept in the storeroom since 2013, without any plan for their disposal.

In Gantsi the total loans disbursed since 2009 amounted to P4, 5 million and only “a paltry”P30 000 was repaid leaving arrears of P2, 5 million.

In Hukuntsi the amount disbursed since 2009 amounted to P2 million out of which P120 000 was recovered with outstanding arrears of P300 000. “According to records in this office, confirmed by discussions with the officer in charge, a number of projects in this region had collapsed, but not action had been taken to recover the assets involved in those projects for proper disposal”, states the report.


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