Top officials from Entebbe Municipal Council are under the spotlight over failure to explain the recovery of Shs1.2 billion loaned out under the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) and Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP).
Members of Parliament on the Public Accounts Committee (Local Government) were disappointed that the officials were oddly incurious during the review of the Auditor General’s report of Entebbe Municipal Council on Thursday, 31 August 2023 for the financial year ended 30 June 2023.
The YLP and UWEP were instituted by the Government to uplift the economic status of indigenous youth and women. These programmes are designed to eradicate poverty and foster employment opportunities by providing targeted financial support to beneficiary groups.
“If you do not recover these funds, the risk is that the programmes may not yield the expected results; It is noted that a lot of money is still outstanding and there is even no indication that the entity is doing anything extraordinary to try and recover the funds so that other beneficiaries can benefit,” said the committee’s lead counsel and Hoima East Division Member of Parliament, Hon. Patrick Isingoma.
The accumulated funds arose from the failure to repay the YLP and UWEP funds thereby causing the Government financial loss amounting to Shs1.2 billion in Entebbe Municipal Council.
The municipal’s Senior Community Development Officer, David Senyonzi, told the committee that initiatives to recover the funds had been put into place despite the fact that their performance was not as expected.
“As far as UWEP and YLP are concerned, we are doing some recoveries though not as expected probably; we have also adopted measures to see to it that women and youth pay back that money. However, we also have very many challenges in recovering the funds.” he said.
Senyonzi’s submission prompted Hon. Gilbert Olanya, the committee chairperson and also Kilak South County Member of Parliament, to task the municipal officials to account for the recovery of the funds.
“How much did you give to the youth and women and how much has been recovered?” he asked.
Sounding unsure of his response, Senyonzi said he did not have the right amount of funds off head. “We have 149 – sorry, I may not have the right figures off head,” he stammered.
To Hon. Isingoma, the municipal officer had not done any work in regard to the recovery and was wasting the committee’s time.
“From the demeanor of this officer, you can even see that he has done nothing on the ground; but I do not know why he cannot be frank to the committee instead of wasting our time; just say you have not done anything so that we can guide you on what to do,” he said.
Members questioned how the officials are in charge of the funds but are still ignorant about the amounts of money that were dispersed to the youth and women. “Do you want the community to assume that you connived and ‘ate’ this money?” asked Hon. Olanya.
The municipal’s Deputy Town Clerk, Aisha Kitenda, being apologetic, pleaded that the officer had only just been appointed to the office.
“The officer has just taken over office on assignment of duties as acting Municipal Community Development Officer after the senior retired. We apologise for any mix up on that; The officer is also not old in Entebbe so he may not have the information off his head,” she said.
In an effort to clear the query, the municipal’s Town Clerk, Emmanuel Mugisha, said they had recovered Shs13 million which was transferred to the Consolidated Fund.
Dismissing the town clerk’s submission, Hon. Olanya said they cannot recover what they do not know.
“You should know how much you were given so that you set your target. You do not know how much you were given but you are recovering, what are you recovering? On Tuesday [05 September 2023] you will bring us more information about the recovery as well as the status of the funds in Entebbe,” he said.