A parliamentary watchdog has pointed out flaws in a government-run self-employment training initiative, which provides only Tk40 to each trainee as daily food allowance.
Aiming to make the poor rural unemployed youth into skilled human resources, the Directorate of Youth Development under the Youth and Sports Ministry runs the training in 53 out of 64 districts and provides loans to the participants after trainings such as tailoring, poultry, animal husbandry, information training, textile and other trades.
At its meeting yesterday, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Youth and Sports Ministry detected gross flaws in the initiative for which the directorate spent over Tk1,200 crore to provide loans to the trainees since the programme was launched in 1982.
The 10-strong watchdog came up with the observation that some corrupt officials were pocketing money from the initiative.
Lawmaker Keya Chowdhury, a committee member, was the first to raise the flaws of the initiative, saying: “How can the poor trainees from the rural areas survive with daily allowance of Tk40 for three meals? So, what most of them do is just leave and the corrupt officials eat up the money allocated for them. No register is maintained.”
Keya told the Dhaka Tribune that in most of the cases, the money given to the trainees as loan was spent in wrong purposes.
“The women spend the money for household purposes while the men divert the money for other purposes,” she said, narrating her experience in Habiganj where she found corruption in the use of daily allowance.
She said officials concerned swindled the money as most of the trainees became irregular.
Zahid Ahsan Russel, the chairman of the committee, and other attending members agreed with her.
“The directorate has a target of establishing that at least 70% trainees were self-employed. But in reality we are in doubt about the target,” Russel told the Dhaka Tribune.
So, the standing committee has recommended increasing the daily allowance so that the young men and women could at least survive, the chairman said.
Russel added that the government had spent over Tk1,200 crore in phases for the self-employment generation training since the programme was launched in 1982. He said 53 districts carried out the training programme to produce skilled human resources.
“Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been trying to create employment opportunities by producing skilled human resources, but her noble vision cannot be materialised because of some corrupt officials of the directorate. We need to ensure monitoring the activities of the officials,” said Keya Chowdhury.
The ministry officials attending the meeting assured the MPs that they would convey the recommendations for increase in allowance to the higher authorities.
In all upazilas of the 53 districts, the youth directorate must provide training on self-employment trades every year. The selected youths are given accommodation facility for training of seven to 21 days. Some trainings are up to six-month-long.
The directorate spends Tk1 lakh per trade in each upazila; for instance, an upazila running trainings on 10 separate trades spends Tk10 lakh per year.
According to the project design, the directorate must show that they had established the self-employement of at least 70% of the trainees through the trainings.
In 2013, the directorate gave trainings to 192,000 youths.
“Is there anyone to challenge the officials claiming that 70% of the trainees have been self-employed? Or can the officers realise the money from the trainees if they spend the money for other purposes?,” said Keya Chowdhury.