Thursday, 3 March 2011

Youth agency seeks cash despite R100m outlay

NYDA CEO Steven Ngubeni. Photo: Sunday World
National Youth Development Agency says it is underfunded and government has turned down a request to increase its budget to R1bn a year.
Published: 2011/03/03 06:38:14 AM

THE National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) yesterday complained it was underfunded, despite forking out R100m to host its controversial World Youth Festival.

NYDA CEO Steven Ngubeni told Business Day it was not the agency’s fault that the government and funders such as the National Lottery had been willing to fund the festival.

The money had been earmarked for the festival and not the NYDA’s operational costs or funds to enable it to carry out its mandate, he said.

The government and the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund donated R32m and R40m respectively to fund the event, which received negative publicity over delegates playing kissing games and drinking alcohol, rather than attending seminars.

Mr Ngubeni said the government had turned down the NYDA’s request to increase its budget to R1bn a year. This was required for the agency to fulfil its mandate , which involved uplifting and creating job opportunities for SA’s youth.

In his budget speech last week, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan allocated R385m to the agency for the 2011-12 financial year.

Mr Ngubeni said: "If you make a request to create jobs and the person doesn’t respond … then you make another request and say you want to go to Durban and the person responds. Then you can’t use those funds allocated for your trip to Durban to create jobs."

But that did not detract from the significance of the festival, he said . "The festival was part and parcel of our mandate…. It went through the same process like all our proposals. It was approved and we did not spend a cent from our own budget."

Democratic Alliance youth leader Makashule Gana said Mr Ngubeni was arrogant. "How do you go and ask for money and then say you are not responsible?"

He said the NYDA had spent half its budget on operational costs and failed to meet its mandate. "Their structure is bloated. There are a lot of people you don’t know what they are doing," Mr Gana said.

Mr Ngubeni said the NYDA would keep pressing the government to increase its budget to R1bn a year, as some of its targets would not be met in the 2010-11 financial year due to budget constraints.

This year, the NYDA had partnered with a number of financial and developmental institutions in an attempt to reach more needy young South Africans, Mr Ngubeni said.

It plans to find employment for 25000 youths through its job placement programme. It also aims to have an office in every municipality, but so far has only 50 .

Through its partnership with the Development Bank of Southern African, KwaZulu-Natal’s Ithala Bank and other institutions, the NYDA aimed to award business loans to 40000 beneficiaries, Mr Ngubeni said.

The NYDA would fund businesses owned by more than one person in an attempt to reach more people.

Meanwhile, AfriForum Youth yesterday submitted business plans to the NYDA from young people requesting financial assistance, to challenge it on its claim that it did not discriminate along racial lines.

The plans, collected from "minority" South Africans under 35 years old in the past two months, were submitted by a delegation to the NYDA’s head office in Johannesburg. NYDA chairman Andile Lungisa said he was not aware of the plans .

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