The Permanent Secretary in the Gender, Labor and Social Development Ministry Pius Bigirimana  has disclosed that Government is to exempt youth groups that received money under the Youth Livelihood Program and invested it in agriculture productivity but lost their projects to prolonged drought and diseases.

In an interview with the Spear News the PS said on top of being exempted, those very groups will be given more funds to revamp their stunted projects.

According to Bigirimana, government has decided to exempt the groups from paying back the money since they lost their projects under circumstances that are beyond their control.  He explains that some of the groups that opted for animal husbandry lost more than half of the livestock under their care.

“We need to help these people because it was not of their own doing that their projects failed. If we make them pay, it is as if we shall be telling them that they caused the drought or swine fever or Newcastle disease,” he said.

In addition to being exempted from paying back the money, government will disburse more funds to these groups to enable them make their enterprises profitable, according to Bigirimana.

Government has so far disbursed around Shillings 75 billion to different youth groups across the country under the YLP. Records from the Gender, Labor and Social Development show that 42 of the 130,000 youths groups that received funding invested in Agricultural projects.

30% of the groups ventured into piggery, 7% crop production and the remaining groups invested in poultry and goat rearing. However, most of the groups lost their projects to drought and disease. Asked on how exemptions will be made, Bigirimana said the ministry will carry out investigations to ascertain those with genuine losses.

According to Bigirimana, groups that made losses due to reasons carelessness or recklessness will have to pay back the money, saying government will not condone such losses.  So far government recovered over 65% of the Shillings 75 billion that was invested in the program.

He says some of the districts like Kyegegwa,Sheema, Dokolo, Rukungiri, Nwoya, Moroto,Zombo, Ntungamo, and Kirihura have performed very well as they have managed to recovered up to 90% of the funds they received.

Government started the YLP in January 2014 to fight unemployment among youth aged between 20 to 30 years. The youths were encouraged to form groups of between 10-25 persons and could borrow as much as Shillings 25 million. Parliament approved a budget of Shillings 265 billion for the program to be spread over a period of five financial years.