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Gender Ministry Moves To Write Off Shs108bn Loans To Youth, Women

A few women entrepreneurs are benefiting from UWEP

The COVID-19 pandemic has left a number of beneficiaries of the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) and women under the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) unable to pay back their loans.

As a result, Government through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development is considering writing off loans to a tune of Shs108bn given to youth under the YLP and women under the UWEP.

This means a number of youth and women will be unable to benefit from these Programmes.

The revelation was made by Minister of State for Labour, Mwesigwa Rukutana while appearing before Parliament’s National Economy Committee where the Ministry officials had appeared to submit their views on the impact of COVID-19 on the economy. 

Mwesigwa told Parliament that close to 23,248 projects financed under the YLP and UWEP are at risk of collapse which will affect up to 456,909 youths and women, due to the poor performance of projects that have been affected by slow recovery of funds by the two Programmes.

The Minister explained that under the Youth Venture Capital Fund, at the time of lockdown, Shs8.65bn had been lent out to the youth, but no repayment has been received since.

Additionally, recoveries under YLP and UWEP have dropped by 90%.

“This means that government will have to write off up to 108bn in non-recoverable loans under YLP and UWEP. Writing off loans will reduce the fund portfolio which in turn will reduce the number of youth and women benefitting from interventions thus increasing youth unemployment by 2.7%,” said Minister Rukutana.

The revelation prompted MPs to call for the halting of the Youth Livelihood Programme until a new study is carried out on its viability at elevating youths from poverty.

Reagan Okumu (Aswa County) said that the Youth Livelihood Programme died even before the Coronavirus pandemic set in and asked the Ministry not to blame the failure of the Programme on the deadly disease.

“If you blame COVID-19 on affecting YLP, it isn’t right. At least the women fund is doing better. The YLP needs to be revisited; it is wasting a lot of money. I don’t know whether it can be blamed on the nature of our youths,” Okumu said.

He added: “They are gathered in trading centers, playing cards and looking for pork and stealing. We shouldn’t continue passing money in the name of YLP, the project isn’t streamlined.”

Michael Migadde (Buvuma Island) also called for review of Youth Livelihood Programme, saying the project was already on collapse before COVID-19 because the youths in Buvuma were already not repaying the money they had obtained from the Ministry of Gender.

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