Youth Fund Looting Bonanza

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By Kenya Confidential Corruption Awareness Desk, Nairobi – March 18, 2021

It appears whatever President Uhuru Kenyatta touches in way of youth empowerment project turns into a disaster. The National Youth Service (NYS) has suffered two billions of shillings worth of scandals yet to be resolved and the Youth Enterprise Development Fund has joined the queue of dishonour.

President Kenyatta on February 24th said the government, through the Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities Project (KYEOP), will inject a total of Ksh 1.3 billion into the Youth Economy. Speaking during the award ceremony for the ‘MbeleNaBiz’ winners at the Moi International Sports Center, said Ksh.900 million of that amount will go to 250 young entrepreneurs as grants.

He said each of the entrepreneurs will receive Ksh.3.6 million, and the balance of Ksh.450 million will then be given as grants to the other 500 winners, each of whom will get Ksh.900,000 to develop their innovations. that may turn into a dream pipeline following the funding agency, Youth Enterprise Development Fund, financial mismanagement.

“On our part as government, we will support these innovations by creating an enabling environment for start-ups by young people. In fact, the BBI initiative, which is about constitutional change and legislative change as well, will facilitate this process.  Through the legislative aspect of BBI, we intend to provide a seven-year tax holiday for young entrepreneurs like the 750 grantees of this project,” he said.

Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu has now disclosed that Ksh 1 billion from the Youth Enterprise Development Fund meant to give loans to the youth has been abused to pay staff salaries, perks and travel. In a report tabled before Parliament, Ms Gathungu says the move casts doubt on the ability of the Fund to provide loans to jobless young people intending to start their own business.

Furthermore, the Auditor General in her report for the financial year ended June 2019 says the utilisation of the Ksh 1 billion for recurrent expenditures will affect the sustainability of the Fund.

“This implies that the Fund management has over time utilised Ksh 1,093, 839,342 of the revolving fund to recurrent operations expenditure thereby affecting the sustainability of the Fund. Further, no reallocation approvals were availed for audit verification to support utilization of conditional grants on recurrent expenditure. Under the current circumstances, sustainability of the revolving is at risk and therefore and doubtful,” reads the reports.

Gathungu says in her report that the funds’ woes is further compounded by the fact that it has in the last four years continue to incur deficits in its financial performance.

“The trend of the Fund continuing to incur (reckless) deficits as has occurred over the last four years may erode the capital invested in the revolving fund and impair the ability of the fund to sustain its core duty and services as intended in its formations,” Gathungu declares in the report.

She warns, “This material uncertainty which casts significant doubt on the continued ability of the Fund to discharge its mandate in the foreseeable future has not been disclosed in the financial statements.”

The Auditor General has also questioned payment of a whooping Ksh739,726 to an officer at the fund for 45 days leave commutation. The officer has not been mentioned in the audit report but was paid over Ksh 16,400 per day. Gathungu said the leave commutation of the officer was not approved by the immediate supervisor.

Last Word:

Kenyan authorities, religious organisations and anti-corruption must engage the Kenyan youths in the War on CORRUPTION.

Young people in Kenya have inadequate ability and opportunities to make their voices heard and accounted for in relevant policies. The constitution of Kenya (CoK2010) guarantees social, economic, and political rights and freedoms, and it expanded democratic spaces through a devolved governance system. The Kenyan government has responded to these responsibilities by enacting laws and policies: Access to information Act 2016; Data Protection Act 2019; ICT Policy 2019 and Public Participation Bill 2018; Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO); Youth enterprise and Uwezo funds. Nevertheless, these efforts have failed to tackle the many socio-economic issues plaguing Kenya’s young people, because civil society and government reformers have had inadequate accountability mechanisms, capacity, and coordination of reform efforts.

First, Kenya’s transition to a devolved governance system has been derailed by, among other factors, weak oversight and accountability from local civil society groups and legislative assemblies. These institutions have inadequately utilized audit reports to hold county government executive officials accountable, allowing corruption and misappropriation of public resources to thrive.

Second, young people, especially those from indigenous communities, low income families, and who are persons with disability, have limited access to media and secure platforms to channel their voices to policy-making institutions. They also lack the knowledge to critically assess and filter truths, half-truths, and outright misinformation in the mainstream media regarding political promises made by government and political leaders.

Third, social justice advocates and government reforms too often work in isolation, and thus advocacy efforts are uncoordinated, while resources (technical and financial) are stretched thin. By working in isolation, civil society and social justice advocates are exposed to risks and have less impact on fighting corruption and countering the closing of civic space.

Young people make up the bulk of Africa’s total population with an estimated 75% of the continent’s population below the age of 35. From a demographic point of view, this calls for a paradigm shift towards the recognition and support of the youth to harness their potential to foster community resilience, propose innovative solutions, drive social progress, youth empowerment and inspire political change. Young people are a tremendous and essential asset worth investing in to fight CORRUPTION.

Citizens Against Corruption Kenya (CACK) is determined to tap that opportunity by engaging youth, women and people living with disabilities in commercialisation of the War on Corruption to empower them economically.

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