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Rebuttal of Hon. Minister of State for ICT and National Guidance Aidah Nantaba’s claims against the Youth Venture Capital Fund and Labour Export

On Saturday, April 14, 2018, the Red Pepper newspaper carried a story on page 5 attributed to the Minister of State for ICT and National Guidance, Aidah Nantaba, which cast the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and some of its Programmes in false light. The story had patently false assertions informed by the unawareness of the modus operandi of specifically the Youth Venture Capital Fund and the labour export services. Below are the facts about the two programmes: The claim that money under the Youth Venture Capital Fund has been squandered is tenuous and utterly wrong as the fund is managed by and embedded at Centenary Bank, which is the exclusive point of access for all beneficiaries.

Since the inception of the Fund in the year 2012, the responsibility of overseeing the Fund has been in the hands of Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. It was only on 16th May, 2017 when this responsibility was transferred to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, upon the decision of Cabinet. In the interest of making the fund more accessible for the youth, The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development immediately undertook to review the terms and condition of the Fund in collaboration with Centenary Bank, for which the two partners should be applauded. We wish to inform the public that selection of beneficiaries and appraisal of projects under this Fund is handled directly by Centenary Bank and there is no money under this Fund that is being ran by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and TELEPHONE: 041-4 347854 THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

Hence the claim that the Ministry is mismanaging the Fund is erroneous. We are glad to report that to-date, 26,944 youth across the Country have benefited from UShs 95.7 Billion under the Fund. We would wish to further inform the public that the Youth Venture Capital Fund is not in any way linked to the Externalization of Labour Programme and therefore there is no single grain of truth in the statement that the Fund has been diverted to finance persons seeking employment abroad. The fund caters for those youth who wish to access funds as individuals, as well as those in smaller groups. Individuals get loan amounts of up to Shs 5 Million while Partners, Cooperatives, Company or Group get up to Shs 25 Million. Repayment is done over a maximum of 24 months for working capital and up to48 months (4years) for capital investment. The interest rate for the fund is 11%per annum (computed on declining-balance basis).

Pius Bigirimana

Each borrower must provide two (2) personal guarantors with active accounts in Centenary Bank, good credit history in case he/she has borrowed before and with no criminal record and a floating charge on the nosiness assets. Borrowers with acceptable alternative security may be exempted from the above requirement. On the issue of youth going to work abroad; labour is a mobile factor of production with a will. Individuals will seek employment opportunities across borders with or without Government intervention. However it’s important to note that the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has taken steps to regularize the export of labour for the obvious reason of ensuring safety of Ugandans, especially in the Middle East countries. So far, Bilateral agreements have been signed with Jordan and Saudi Arabia and negotiations continue to bring onboard other countries. The key elements of these agreements are the traceability (monitoring) and safety of each worker. This is why it’s important to ensure that each Ugandan who wishes to get employment abroad, does so through the licensed companies.

Aidah Nantaba

Just last week, the Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development commissioned the External Employment Management Information System which will revolutionize the sector. It can be accessed on  https://eeimis.mglsd.go.ug

Lastly, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has been at the center of innovating programmes specifically aimed at tackling youth unemployment. Among them is the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) which has to-date financed a total of 13,107 projects supporting 163,130 beneficiaries. This has created self-employment opportunities and increased incomes of the youth in the rural and urban areas alike. Other youth programmes initiated by the Ministry include the Green Jobs and Fair Labour Market Project and the National Apprenticeship Programme, which is being finalized to promote workplace skilling of youth.

Pius Bigirimana PERMANENT SECRETARY

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