Saturday, January 23, 2021

MPs grill Makgalemele over Youth Development Fund

The junior Minster at Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Phillip Makgalemele was this week at pains to explain whether the Youth Development Fund (YDF) could be classified as “successful” or not.

The youth oriented government scheme was on spotlight this past Friday with Parliament questioning its success and sustainability.

Member of Parliament for Francistown East Buti Billy moved the motion around the programme during Minister’s question, sparking a slew of supplementary questions from the MP’s across the political divide.

“I could not say fully the success of the initiative through the programme considering the unemployment rate around the youths coupled with the expenditure of the programme”, admitted Makgalemele.

“YDF is not the only Fund. You should also consider programmes such as CEDA, LIMID, ISPAAD and a wide range of programmes,” he added, answering an intervention from opposition MP Haskins Nkaigwa suspicions of the success of the project.

Aimed at a wide range of initiatives including job creation and in particular amongst the vulnerable youths, the programmes run in parallel with YDF duplicating duties and responsibilities aimed cushioning the record high unemployment common amongst youths with the Assistant Minister hiding behind the overlapping of duties and services.

This according to Makgalemele means there is likelihood the programmes compete for applicants rendering YDF to appear unsuccessful.

Introduced in 2009, YDF aims to finance business start-ups for the youth through promoting active participation in the socio-economic development of the country.

Besides encouraging the out-of-school, marginalized and unemployed youth to venture into sustainable and viable income generating projects, the programme also promote the development of competitive, sustainable and growth orientated citizen owned youth enterprises amongst other initiatives.

For the period 2013/14, YDF received applications of 2,220 business aspirants with 1,043 approved to a tune of P99,015,907.00 against a budget allocation of P120m per annum distributed at a rate of P2m per constituency.

The same was recorded for the period 2014/15 at 2,045 applications against 1,077 approved to a tune of P110,691,695.92 as will  2,529 applications with 1,349 to a tune of P107,030,878.35 for the period 2015/16 both of the expenditure failing to reach the fixed annual ceiling of P120m.

In subsequent years, a paltry 807 applications were approved for the period 2017/18 against 1,797 applications to a tune of P101, 073,439.29- the expenditure still refusing to hit the top ceiling.

Amid unconvincing approval and expenditure of the applicants, the Assistant Minister is equally worried of the repayment of loans calling the situation “one of the our biggest challenges as most of the young people do not pay back their loans even some of those who are seemingly doing well.”

That notwithstanding, the aspirant young people continue to flock the YDF orientations across the country with a total of 23,613 attending for the year 2018/19 financial year a total of which 2,310 submitted their business proposals.

“This demonstrates the high level of interest of the young people in the programme,” Makgalemele said, disappointed however of the low turnout for submission of business proposals blaming the circumstances perhaps on mobilization of the programme.

“For example during this year’s orientation training at Mabutsane/Morwamosu 497 young people attended the meeting only for no-one to submit the business proposal. The same will be for Selebi-Phikwe East and West and Bobonong at which 176, 180, 543 attended the training for only 2, 3 and 9 respectively to submit the proposals,” he added.

“These are some of the challenges we are facing. Maybe the mobilization of the programme…but we will go back to them,” he concluded, answering a supplementary question from the Specially Elected MP Mephato Reatile who himself is also equally concerned about the trend in particular his former constituency Jwaneng-Mabutsane constituting Morwamosu village.

Funded to a maximum of P100 000 each, YDF funds are divided into two with 50 percent of the amount being a loan and the remaining 50 percent a grant for the start-up businesses.

A group of 5 to 10 young people is funded to a maximum of P450, 000.00 under the same conditions.

“The loan component is repaid over an agreed period and a penalty of 5% interest on arrears is charged on defaulter,” Makgalemele reassured the agitated Parliament.

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