9 December 2012

Uganda: Youth Protest New Terms for Funds

The cheers for the Government offer of the youth fund is no more and in some quarters it caused tears to roll.

Andrew Lutwama, ICT graduate, has always dreamt of setting up a small computer repair workshop near his home in Nankulabye, when Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) announced that the youth money was already in the bank. When he hurried there, he was disappointed.

Lutwama is one of the hundreds of youth who are likely to miss the sh3.3b package because of the tough conditions that the banks and KCCA have set. This is part of a sh16.5bn package President Museveni promised the youth in Kampala last year to help them create jobs and better their lives.

Last Friday, Lutwama joined hundreds of youth to protest at Rubaga Municipal headquarters, accusing KCCA and Centenary bank of complicating the process.

Tough requirements:

In June, KCCA issued requirements for accessing the funds. They included a proposal, application forms, certificate of registration, valid identifications like passport, voters' card and the borrower was required to present two reputable persons.

However, under the new arrangement, tough requirements were added. The youth must also have a land title and form groups which must have sh500,000 on their account as collateral. Many say they cannot afford.

"At first, they told us they had stopped disbursing money because they wanted to weed out some groups which had registered yet they are not residents of Kampala," says Stella Nalumansi, who runs a salon in Mengo.

She says she wants a loan of sh5m to expand her business. "They assured us that after cleaning up the system, we would get the money, but instead they came up with tough rules.

Where will we get land titles and money to deposit on our account," she wondered

She says they are four co-owners of the salon and that they needed the money to buy modern equipment.

Their estimates are sh3m to upgrade their business.

What KCCA says:

Peter Kauju, KCCA's spokesperson, said the Central Government reviewed its position and channeled the money through Centenary Bank.

"Centenary Bank is lending the money out at 10% which is much lower. But it sets it's own parameters, which the youth must fulfill," Kauju explained.

Asked about the youth failing to qualify, Harriet Mudondo KCCA's director for Gender and Community Services said Over 1,000 youth had received their money, but who protested thought they would frustrate the process.

KCCA youth councillor, Aidah Nakunya, said the youth are worried that the targeted youth are failing and the non-beneficiaries are the ones accessing the money. "I doubt that the youth have the requirements the bank needs.

Those who are getting are not the target group," she said. "We petitioned the executive director's office in vain. On Tuesday, we petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kale Kayihura, but found him engaged. He promised to meet us soon.

What Musisi says:

In an exclusive interview with Saturday Vision, the city executive director, Jennifer Musisi said the youth are being used by crooks to put Government on pressure to disburse them money without security.

"Can you get money from any one without a security?" She asked. "Not even from your father. The bank we have used has been successful in handling the same project in other districts," she explained.

KCCA had started giving it out in loans on a youth fund scheme in August, but the Minister of Finance, Maria Kiwanuka and the Load Mayor Erias Lukwago, advised the authority to use financial institutions.

What Centenary Bank says:

Fabian Kasi, the managing director of Centenary Bank, said they want youths who have businesses that have been running for more than three months.

"We think you will be able to pay it back at 10% interests if you are already in some business," he said. He also refuted the claims that the bank was demanding land titles to secure the loans.

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