By Bright Tembo

GOVERNMENT has so far recovered K21 million from the Youth Empowerment Fund since September 2021.

Addressing journalists on Friday, Youth Sports and Arts minister Elvis NKandu said the new dawn government did not find any recovered funds by the previous administration.

“My ministry, working with various stakeholders, has improved the monitoring, evaluations of all empowerment programmes at the ministry. And this process is aimed at recovering all funds disbursed through youth empowerment programmes,” he said.

“The recovery plan is aimed to help all the beneficiaries of various youth empowerment programmes. And I am glad to inform you that since September 2021 we have recovered K21 million. We found nothing; there was no recovery of whatsoever, but the months that we have been in office since September we have recovered K21 million, and this should now be given to those that deserve.”

He said the ministry was still facing challenges in recovering some of the funds.
“There is no positive change that does not come with challenges. We have challenges because some people thought that those were not loans but grants because they sang very good songs for the previous regime. But I am afraid to say that those were loans and they should pay back,” Nkandu added.

“Those that have not been paying, please start paying so that tomorrow when we visit you… We know your language that ‘they are victimising us because we belong to this political party’. Belonging to another political party is another and paying is also another, so just pay, that was not a grant.”

NKandu also disclosed that the ministry has since reviewed implementation modalities of the youth empowerment programme.
He said the ministry has now developed new guidelines in order to facilitate effective implementation of the programme.
Some of the guidelines will allow youths to easily access the free application loans through the district and provincial levels.
All applications will be appraised by the district and provincial appraisal committees.

“We are doing this so that we avoid corruption. For us, transparency is the corner stone for our government. These provincial committees will really help us as government to make sure that the people that are going to be given these empowerment funds are really being scrutinized,” said Nkandu.

“People complained that we have not disbursed these empowerment funds for the past seven months. But we wanted to first review the guidelines because the guidelines were so prohibitive to some extent and very discriminative and we wanted to make sure that this was done away with.”

The first level of empowerment is between K100,000 and 300,00; the second level will be between K300,000 and K500,000.
Level three is above K500,000 and all loans above K500,000 will need an incubation company as collateral and the equipment will be procured by the ministry.
20 per cent above K500,000 will be given in cash as operational costs.
All cooperatives that applied for fuel tanker empowerment should have a minimum membership of 30.


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