Mayor questions commitment of beneficiaries and COVID-19
The Francistown District Office the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development has collected only P1000 in loan repayments from beneficiaries of the Youth Development Fund (YDF), The Botswana Gazette has established.
According to the Mayor of Francistown, Godisang Radisigo, this is against a target of P1 million for the financial year of 2020/21. Addressing the ongoing full council session, Radisigo said YDF loan repayment remains a serious challenge that raises concerns about the commitment of the beneficiaries to repaying their loans.
Even so, the Mayor pointed a finger at COVID-19 and lockdowns to control its spread as having had an impact on the repayment of the loans. “Let me remind you that during lockdown, businesses were closed and income was not flowing as expected,” he said.
“Therefore, youth businesses will continue to default in paying these loans. Some businesses could not take off because they were still procuring assets internationally and borders are currently closed.”
YDF loan repayment has been a concern since the programme began. However, the latest Auditor General’s Report recently blamed the ministry for poor loan repayments and a general malaise around the programme.
“Lack of monitoring by district officers as well as reporting by beneficiaries led to beneficiaries not getting the necessary assistance on time, which eventually led to the collapse of some projects,” the report noted.
“The ministry does not adequately do verification and recording of assets after procurement. In all the districts visited, there were no inventories of YDF projects’ assets. Due to failure to verify and record the assets bought by the Fund, the ministry did not know the number and the value of assets bought through the Fund.
“There are no documented guidelines on recouping and disposal of assets despite the discretion in the Memorandum of Agreement for the ministry to reclaim the Fund or any part thereof or take possession of the equipment bought with the financial assistance in the event the beneficiary failed to meet some stipulated requirements.”
At the ministry, Permanent Secretary Kago Ramokate has accused the beneficiaries of not complying with YDF guidelines.