By Bonnie Modiakgotla
The money sapping Youth Development Fund (YDF) is getting a reboot after dismal performance marked by high failure rates, poor record keeping and disastrous payment collections.
On Monday during the State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Mokgweetsi Masisi said he has kick-started a review of the YDF to improve the success rate of youth projects, thus optimising job creation through the programme.
“Among the proposed changes will be a focus on funding of youth cooperatives and consortia in identified sectors with potential for success. Government has also decided to capacitate the YDF beneficiaries through training in first-level project management as a pre-condition for being funded and there will be consideration for exemption in deserving cases. The proposed changes will be pronounced before the beginning of the next financial year,” Masisi said.
The YDF is an initiative by the government through ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development (MYSEC) to fund businesses started by young people between the age of 18 and 35. Masisi says the government through YDF dispenses about P120 million annually. Funding is in the form of 50 percent loan while the other half is a grant.
Kago Ramokate, permanent secretary at MYSEC, was blasted by the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) for how the fund has been managed. Ramokate revealed the fund has failed to collect around P400 million from the beneficiaries who received funding. While Masisi says the government funds YDF with P120 million annually, Ramokate said they release on average P114 million every year.
Ramokate, second in command to the minister said that their collection target is P6 million per year, yet they have managed to collect a paltry P2.8 million as loan repayments. Ramokate conceded that they have weak investment and monitoring controls to manage performance of the funded projects. Shockingly, he revealed that some records are missing hence they do not have exact figures of how much the government has lost through funding youth businesses.