By Uganda Vanguard
NTINDA – Youth leaders have warned the National Resistance Movement (NRM), the ruling party of losing their support in the 2021 general elections should the proposed Youth Livelihood Program (YLP) budget cut be effected.
Initiated in 2014, the YLP has been allocated Shs64 billion annually benefiting close to a total of 200,000 youth. During the 2016 campaign, President Yoweri Museveni promised to increase the funds to Shs2 billion per district (total Shs234 billion) but to the contrary the program is on the brink of collapsing.
According to Mr Samuel Odong, the secretary publicity, National Youth Council (NYC), Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development has proposed to reduce the program from Shs64 billion to Shs3 billion in the financial year 2019/20 budget to be made public in about a week’s time.
“Instead of attest giving us half of the President’s pledge, they have allocated only Shs3 billion is an operational cost to recover loans given out so far. This move has been crafted by Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija and his junior minister David Bahati. These are enemies of State and President Yoweri Museveni to lose the majority youth votes come 2021 elections,” he said.
If they do not listen to us and address our issue, we are going to mobilize the youth to protest and block the national budget from being read, Mr Odong told journalists at NYV office in Ntinda Wednesday, May 22, 2019.
He further explained, “This is why you seen more youth joining opposition political parties and pressure groups like People Power (led by Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulyani) hoping to get out of poverty. More are bounded to join if the program budget is cut.”
Mr Emmanuel Ekima, the secretary finance, NYC described the cut as an act by ‘mafia group’ in the finance ministry to discredit the NRM government.
“As you are aware, this program was started as a youth empowerment program with the main aim of addressing youth accessibility to financial services but also contributing to youth participation in a productive sector. It has revolutionized youth empowerment and has so far been the best model of empowering the youth. A total of 16,169 youth groups with membership of 197,728 individual youth have so far benefited in the program. A total of Shs123,970,260,587 has so far been disbursed to the above youth groups throughout the country,” he said.
Adding,” We have been informed that this decision has been made to divert the program to State House. In our opinion, we believe that you if you are a parent, you cannot kill your own son at the expense of getting another one. We believe that State House has good ideas for the young people but instead of scrapping the already existing programs, It should create new programmes for the youth to benefit. Young people have embraced YLP to the extent that over 920,000 new applications have been received awaiting resource allocation. It is our suspicion that this decision made by some MoFPED officials was totally wrong.”
Efforts to reach finance ministers Kasaija and Bahati were futile as their phones were off.
When contacted, Uganda Media Centre, executive director, Mr Opwono Opondo said he was not aware of the budget cuts but referred Uganda Vanguard to Mr Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development who could not be reached by his mobile phone as well.
By Uganda Vanguard