The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has questioned the rationale behind several ministries’ failure to utilize the funds allocated to support the implementation of the National Employment Program (NEP) while other related projects remained incomplete.
The National Employment Program is among the pillars of EDPRS II and Vision 2020, focusing on supporting women and youth to access capital for investment and facilitate creation of jobs through receiving loan guarantee or support of 75% for planned projects.
The 2014/2015 Auditor General report indicated that a number of malpractices were realized at the inception of NEP including; failure to use NEP fund.
The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Public Service and Labor, Mulindwa Samuel has explained to parliamentarians that the fund allocated to NEP was not used since it was availed at the end of the financial year and used in the year that followed.
“The unutilized money was a half of NEP fund from donors. The money was handed to stakeholders responsible for implementing NEP projects in March while the annual budget is usually closed on 15th May. Only two months remained to implement planned programs,” he said.
Some ministries explained that the red-tape and long procedures required to use public funds forced some accounting officers of the fund to keep the money other than getting accused of misuse.
The ministries in question include; the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF) which was supposed to support teens caught in the trap of underage pregnancies to create own jobs; and the Ministry of Youth and ICT (MyICT) which was supposed to buy materials for youth that graduated at Iwawa Rehabilitation Center.
They however explained that since June 30th ,2015 the money were used to fund the identified projects and addressed all queries that had been raised.
Iwacu Milk Processing Plant and Irish potatoes post-harvest support were among the delayed projects under NEP.
NEP was initiated in the 2014/2015 budget.
At central level, the key institutions involved in NEP implementation include MIFOTRA, MIGEPROF, MINICOM, MYICT, MINEDUC, MINALOC, RDB, LODA, WDA, NIRDA, NYC, NWC, NCPD, RCA, NCBS, BDF and PSF.
Though NEP encountered some challenges, MPs lauded the success of surpassing the target of creating 200,000 but achieved 203,000 off farm jobs.