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Saturday, August 29, 2009

NYEP Programme: Who were the ghosts?

Government asked to investigate how GH¢2 million was paid to 5000
Government asked to investigate how GH¢2 million was paid to 5000 "ghost" beneficiaries
A civil society group has called for urgent action by the government on a number of issues concerning the fate of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), principal among which are its legal status, sustainability, "ghost" beneficiaries and indebtedness.

At a news conference in Accra on Wednesday to highlight challenges facing the NYEP, the Centre for Creativity (CFC), Ghana, asked the government to "as a matter of urgency, and policy, establish the NYEP through an Act of Parliament in order to make it a permanent programme for the benefit of the youth."

Government through the Auditor-General, the group said, should also investigate how GH¢2 million was paid to 5000 "ghost" beneficiaries, which according to its investigations, was lost to the state between 2006 and 2008, Mr Kassim Mohammed Mutawakil, spokesman for CFC, told the press.

He claimed that the NYEP owes the Agricultural Development Bank GH¢13,650,630.90 as at June 2009 for pre-financing the programme through the payment of salaries of beneficiaries.

Mr Mutawakil said the debt was attracting an interest of 1.8 per cent and suggested that managers of NYEP must be allowed to source funds directly from the Communication Tax which was meant to finance the programme.

He suggested that all moneys raised from the communication tax should be used to finance the NYEP to make it sustainable, instead of the mere 20 per cent currently being used to support it.

Mr Mutawakil said an estimated 532,500 people who were registered between 2006 and 2009 for the NYEP under various modules, including Youth-in-Agriculture, business, and health extension workers.

He questioned the rationale behind attaching 45,552 beneficiaries of Waste and Sanitation Assistants module to Zoomlion, a private entity "while the government continues to pay them and also pay the company.

"We propose that the beneficiaries be properly trained and gradually absorbed permanently into institutions in order to address the youth unemployment problem," he said.

He called for special attention for the Community Education Teaching Assistants and Health Extension Works modules since they help in augmenting the workforce in deprived communities where professionals often refuse posting.

In the same vein, the Community Protection Assistants Should be absorbed into the regular security services since they could pose as security risk in the future.

Mr Mutawakil urged beneficiaries of the NYEP to remain confident since investigations conducted by the CFC into media reports of unlawful dismissals had proved to be untrue.

He said all workers of the programme, including the coordinators had a two-year-contract, subject to renewal, adding; "The NYEP is one of the initiatives by the previous administration that the current administration, from what we have seen so far, intends to continue, sustain and expand."

Reacting to some of the issues raised by the CFC, Abuga Pele, the National Coordinator of the NYEP, said the government was adopting a multi-faceted approach to solve the problem of "ghost" names.

He confirmed the debt of the NYEP to the ADB and said since it continued to attract interest. He agreed with the idea of funds being released directly to the NYEP instead of being pre- financed by a bank at an interest.

Mr Pele called for increase in the percentage allocated to the NYEP from the Communication Tax to broaden its areas of operation.

"Since the Communication Tax was set up to support the NYEP, there is the need for the programme to derive maximum benefit from it," he said.

Mr Pele explained that under the Sanitation Assistants module, government had a special arrangement with Zoomlion under which the beneficiaries were given equipment to work with while the NYEP paid the salaries.

Source: Times

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