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MPs ask Government to write off YLP, UWEP loans over poor recovery

Chemwenoi Onion growing and selling group in Kapchorwa Municipality in 2021.  Many groups have since disintergrated

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Members of the Local Governments Public Accounts Committee have urged the government to consider writing off loans that were given out under the Youth Livelihood Programme and Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programs.

The government undertook to implement the two programs in 2014 and 2015 respectively as social economic empowerment initiatives targeting to improve the income levels and economic development of the youth and women.

The two programs implemented under the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development have been providing loan facilities to organized enterprise groups in the form of interest-free revolving funds, to spur their economic empowerment.

However, during their interactions with the various local government leaders who were summoned to respond to queries raised in the 2022/23 report of the Auditor General, the MPs observed that the obvious poor reimbursement of loans by beneficiaries indicated that the programs did not serve the intended purposes.

Jonam County MP Emmanuel Angiertho observes that the majority of the funded enterprise groups especially under YLP have since disintegrated and the loans cannot be recovered from the beneficiaries. He says the Auditor General and the accountability committee have repeatedly tasked local government leaders to recover the money in vain, and instead, they have resorted to coercing the defaulters many of whom are on the run.

Angiertho urges that it’s high time the government writes off loans in default, to allow beneficiaries to settle and participate in other social livelihood improvement programs the government is initiating.

According to the Auditor General’s report, the government has an outstanding loan balance of 129 billion Shillings out of the 175.4 billion Shillings so far invested in the YLP, while out of the total investment of 127.3 billion Shillings, in UWEP only 74 billion Shillings has been recovered.

Angiertho wants the government to pick lessons from the failures of the previous wealth improvement programs, to help in better planning the implementation of the Parish Development Model Program-PDM, the latest social improvement initiative the government is implementing.

Lira District Woman Member of Parliament Agnes Linda Auma, who chaired some of the sessions in Masaka, says that they are going to make a recommendation to the government to give up on the loans.

According to her, they made attempts to task the accounting officers to pursue the defaulters, to the extent of threatening to block budget releases of the poorly performing local governments, but all their efforts have consistently failed to yield the preferred results.

Kyotera district Chief Administrative Officer Rogers Gabriel Bwayo told the committee, that many of the defaulters have since runway from their areas of residences to evade arrest. He also confirms that many of the funded projects did not break even and the defaulting beneficiaries blamed the failures on the  COVID-19 pandemic.

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