Youth Employment Program Abandoned

By Stephen Odoi-Larbi
The Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), formerly National Youth Employment Program has been abandoned by the government.

This policy direction leaves the fate of the over 400,000 workers of

the Agency in limbo, as there is no clear-cut initiative to absorb them in other sectors of the economy.

Consulting firms who have been contracted by the government to work on the payroll of GYEEDA employees are also to bear the brunt of the new policy direction, which is clearly spelt out in the 2013 Financial Policy Statement of the Government.

In the document, no budgetary allocation was made to GYEEDA in the 2013 Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Youth & Sports, the parent body under which the Agency operates.

It was not clear what might have influenced the government to come out with such a harsh decision that leaves over 400,000 workers jobless.

However, many pundits have expressed the belief that the government was influenced by the corruption that has engulfed the Agency, resulting in the loss of millions of Cedis of the tax payer’s money.

GYEEDA, in recent years, have been a conduit for siphoning monies by a well-coordinated network of corrupt officials through the duplication of names and ghost names on the payroll of the Agency.

No data on overrun expenditure
Last week, Parliament’s Select Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture cited the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the body under which GYEEDA operates, for excessive expenditure totalling GH¢1999,311,753.00,

representing over 300% of the GH¢54,244,178.00 budgetary allocation for the Ministry in 2012.

The Minister of Youth and Sports, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah had in a

communication to the Select Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture said the GH¢199,311,753.00 was used in paying arrears due beneficiaries of GYEEDA.

Details of the overrun expenditure was, however, not provided; thereby provoking some Members of Parliament (MP) to think otherwise.

MP for New Juabeng South, Dr. Mark Assibey Yeboah alleged on the floor of the House that the excess amount was paid to ‘ghost’ names since the Ministry of Youth and Sports had not been forthcoming with data on the beneficiaries.

“On the floor of Parliament, the minister and the ministry are unable to provide details on how the [about] 200 million was spent; for me that money went to nonexistent workers, that is ghost workers. If indeed they are true workers this should not be too difficult to provide,” he noted.

Afriyie Ankrah responds
But Sports Minister Elvis Afriyie Ankrah in an interview with Joy FM’s Top Story debunked such claim. According to him, data outlining how the money was spent had been provided to the Select Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture and was, therefore, surprised that some MPs are lambasting his outfit.

Mr. Ankrah, acting on the policy direction of the government, had

written a letter to GYEEDA, asking for all payments to beneficiaries to be stopped, except that covering administrative and overhead costs of the Agency.

He further directed that all the new modules introduced in the last

quarter of 2012 and beginning of this year, be suspended.

GYEEDA currently has over 30 modules operating across the country, some of which include; Youth in Security Services, Youth in Fire Prevention, Youth in Immigration, Youth in Agri-Business, Youth in Health Extension, Youth in Waste and Sanitation, Youth in Paid Internship, Youth in Community Teaching Assistants, Youth in Trades and Vocation, Youth in Eco-Brigade and Youth in Information Communication Technology.

The measure, according to the Minister, was ‘thorough review of GYEEDA’ since the government would want to ‘do the right thing for once.’

This policy has not only sent shivers down the spine of beneficiaries

of GYEEDA but also many Ghanaians, including MPs on the ticket of the ruling party, National Democratic Congress (NDC).

NDC MPs fight NHIS boss
With the policy at hand, many government agencies, including the

National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) that has module(s) under

GYEEDA have suspended budgetary allocations into the accounts of the Agency.

The Chief Executive of NHIS, Mr. Sylvester Mensah in a brief to

Parliament’s Committee on the Whole on the status of the Scheme said no budgetary allocation was made to GYEEDA to cater for the Youth in Health Extension module.

This directive, according to inside sources, was said to have provoked some MPs on the Majority side, who had verbal confrontation with Mr. Sylvester Mensah on his outfit’s decision not to allocate any money into GYEEDA accounts.