‘Ministry is gormless about own youth fund projects’

While the latest Auditor General’s report says the ministry purchases assets for YDF beneficiaries but does not know the number and value of these assets, the ministry blames the beneficiaries for the sorry state of affairs. Staff Writer SESUPO RANTSIMAKO reports

FRANCISTOWN: The Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development is in the dark about the number and value of assets procured for beneficiaries of the Youth Development Fund (YDF), raising questions of misuse of funds by respective districts, the 2018/19 report of the Auditor General, Pulane Letebele, says.

A key finding of the audit is that the ministry is failing to efficiently and effectively implement the YDF programme. The report indicates that while the ministry is allocated P120 million with each constituency being allocated P2 million to run the whole programme for each financial year, the ministry has failed to carry out the programme adequately.

The AG’s report states that the ministry purchases assets for YDF beneficiaries but does not know the number and value of these assets, raising questions whether the guidelines are being followed.

While the guidelines have a provision of recouping assets of defaulters of the programme, there is (still) no clearly documented mechanism for doing this in place even nine years after the programme began.

Moreover, despite the discretion in the memorandum of agreement for the ministry to reclaim funds or take possession of equipment bought with the assistance of the fund if the beneficiaries fail to meet stipulated requirements, there is no clear documented guidelines on recouping and disposal of assets.
“The audit inspection revealed that YDF assets were not all labelled as required by the memorandum of agreement,” the report notes. “Furthermore, the ministry did not adequately do the verification and recording of assets after procurement. In all districts visited, there were no inventories of YDF project’s assets. Due to failure to verify and record the assets bought by the fund, the ministry does not know the number and the value of assets bought through the fund.”

Discrepancies and non-compliance with the YDF include instances where some beneficiaries had applied as individuals but were funded under the youth industry option, which is meant for groups. “The non-adherence to YDF guidelines by the ministry has led to misuse of funds,” the report emphasizes.
But the ministry’s Permanent Secretary (PS), Kago Ramokate, blames YDF beneficiaries for non-compliance. “The YDF beneficiaries are the ones who are failing to comply with the guidelines,” Ramokate said in an interview. “As the ministry we acknowledge that there is poor monitoring of funded projects but it could be done better.

“It has to be noted that there are lots of funded projects countrywide and we could not visit all of them in one financial year. That is why we have a schedule on monitoring of these projects.”

He said the ministry did not recoup some of the assets of collapsed projects because of the poor state of the assets.