The deputy minister of information, Fatimatu Abubakar, has declared that the 2022 Budget is youth-focused and is aimed at creating opportunities for them to gain job experience.
Speaking on Asaase Radio Sunday (21 November), Abubakar cited the introduction of the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) initiative in Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s first term as clear testimony of the government’s objective to create an enabling environment for the youth to contribute to nation-building.
“For its first year, NABCO took about 100,000 trainees,” she told the show host, Benjamin Offei-Addo. “These trainees were trained in various areas – revenue mobilisation, teaching, non-teaching programmes, entrepreneurship, working with our environmental agencies, among others – and the government had to commit about GHC70 million in every month to pay them, which is about GHC840 million every year.”
Necessity as the mother
Abubakar acknowledged that the unemployment situation is worrying, but qualified that by saying that joblessness had led to the introduction of the YouStart initiative in the 2022 Budget.
YouStart is a vehicle for supporting young entrepreneurs to gain access to capital, training, technical skills and mentoring to enable them launch and operate their own businesses.
“When the Budget which has been presented in Parliament is approved, we are going to commit as much as GHC10 billion to the YouStart programme, which is a support system for start-ups in the country,” Abubakar said.
Delivering the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government in Parliament last Wednesday, Ken Ofori-Atta said the initiative will start with an initial funding of GHC1 billion.
“This understanding of the youth employment challenge, as well as extensive consultations with stakeholders, including youth associations and educational institutions across the country, have led to the development of the YouStart initiative, which proposes to use GHC1 billion to create one million jobs in partnership with the finance institutions and development partners,” he said.
”In addition, our local banks have agreed to a package that will result in increasing their SME portfolio up to about GHC5 billion over the next three years.”
Meanwhile, the director of communications at the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation programme (NEIP), Joseph Osei Oppong-Brenya, has asked members of the opposition to embrace the YouStart Initiative.
According to him, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government announced seed capital of GHC10 million for entrepreneurs but ended up funding only 66 enterprises in the country.
“The NDC have repackaged their lies to deceive Ghanaians again. That is what they are good at. They say something and do a different thing.
“They have no credibility. The Nana Addo government through NEIP has changed the entrepreneurial ecosystem a few years of coming into office,” he said.
Oppong-Brenya said entrepreneurs now can access funding and business advisory services to improve their businesses because NEIP, acting through private business incubation hubs, has provided “the light and has whipped up the entrepreneurial mindset in the people. Before, nobody was talking about entrepreneurship.”