The Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development has allocated K300 million to the Mzuzu Youth Centre, a project that has been getting funding for the past 10 years without registering noteworthy progress on the ground.
In the 2018/19 National Budget, government did not approve any funds towards the project, but this changed in the Mid-Year Budget Review passed during the just-ended Parliament meeting.
A budget statement which responsible minister Goodall Gondwe presented in the National Assembly, has also pointed out that China will no longer be responsible for the funding.
“Initially it was expected that the project would be funded by the Chinese. The government has decided to finance the project,” he said.
The project, launched in 2008 ahead of the 2009 general election campaign under former president Bingu wa Mutharika, has so far witnessed two ground-breaking ceremonies under the current Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration with the pledge to start construction “soon”.
Capital Hill has since the 2010/11 fiscal year allocated and spent over K300 million on the project. For a decade, over K500 million has been allocated to the project.
After the Peter Mutharika administration was ushered into power in 2014, a further K200 million was allocated and part of the funds were used for the groundbreaking ceremony.
On the progress of the project which is expected to have sports facilities for netball, football and basketball among others, the budget statement just indicated that “designs are available”.
Meanwhile, Youth and Society (YAS), a civil society organisation which has been pushing for the project implementation, has said there is nothing exciting about the current K300 million allocation.
“The problem which has been facing this project is not lack of financial allocation, but we fear these funds are being abused because there is no progress at all. What we want is that government should account for the funds it has been allocating to it,” YAS executive director Charles Kajoloweka said in an interview.
He urged government to involve Mzuzu-based stakeholders in the project implementation.
“The problem is that government is doing this project in isolation. We want it to engage actors within the city. This will ensure accountability in use of resources,” he said. n