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Lawmakers' concern over repayment of NYSS loans

Feb 12, 2010, 11:25 AM | Article By: Sainey MK Marenah & Alieu Jabang

Members of the National Assembly PAC/PEC committees have raised concerns over the non-settlement of loans given to members and ex-corp members of the National Youth Service  Scheme (NYSS).

During yesterday's joint sitting of the National Assembly committees, NYSS officials appeared before the law-makers.

First to raise concern was Mam Cherno Jallow, the Member for Upper Niumi, who pointed out that the loans are not meant for people who are not willing to pay back.

"When you give out loans, you make follow-ups to recover these loans. Let us not be accumulating things for too long, otherwise it will be to our detriment," he said.

Noting that NYSS is an important institution that strives to create employment opportunities and capacity-building for Gambian youths, Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, the Majority Leader and Member for Serrekunda East, said "there is need for a holistic approach to review and revisit the present condition of NYSS so as to make it fit for our Gambian brothers who are the future."

"Access to loan is fundamental, but repayment is a must and people should not play with funds that are meant for business or development," he stated.

He lamented that "most unskilled and skilled" labour in The Gambia is often done by foreigners, noting that "if our own youths are trained and capacitated they can do more, if the necessary things are in place."

"Looking at the figures of NYSS, from my own point of view, it is my opinion that the National Assembly Select Committee on Youth and Sports should engage the Ministry of Finance to put NYSS on the spotlight," he added.

Hon. Abdoulie Jawla of Sandu constituency maintained that people entrusted with the responsibility of managing public institutions should always be accountable, while the Member for Banjul North, Hon, Alagie Sillah, said, "if NYSS is to grow, it needs many things on the ground."

Momodou Lamin K. Sanneh, the Minority Leader and member for Kiang West, stressed the need for the repayment of NYSS loans which, he said "will help the institution to function well."

Musa Mbye, the Executive Director of NYSS, raised some of the constraints faced by his institution. These, he noted, include a shortage of vehicles and computers. He added that the sole financier of the NYSS is government by means of a subvention which, he said, could not sustain such an institution where many youths are catered for.

Mr. Mbye then urged the members of the Board of Directors to raise funds for the NYSS, revealing that almost 45 corp members were supported with loans to continue their businesses.

"Most of the youths who took loans are venturing into businesses different from what they learned at NYSS, according to the study conducted," he revealed.

At the end of the session, members adopted the NYSS reports and financial statements for the year ended 31st December 2006, 2007, and 2008 respectively.