The Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission- (CEEC) has disclosed that government has increased the citizens empowerment fund from 365 Million Kwacha from last year’s allocation to 377 Million Kwacha to fund economic empowerment initiatives this year.
CEEC Director General, Charles Mungule said so far, the commission was in receipt of over 100,000 loan applications for empowerment, however the disbursement of loan products will leverage on provincial strategies that seek to enhance poverty reduction and improved livelihoods for citizens.
He was speaking in Choma District when he led a combined team of officers from CEEC who were conducting a sensitization program on CEEC’s empowerment products.
“The empowerment program by CEEC is in various sectors and is competitive in nature therefore going forward our institution will prioritise awarding loans to individuals and institutions whose proposals seek to remedy the social economic challenges at grassroot level,” he explained.
Mr Mungule added that his institution will further prioritise the disbursement of loans at local level to promote the establishment of industries as a way of fast-tracking industrialization in rural areas.
“We have realized that there is a huge potential for the establishment of industries at local level as most of the production of raw materials is done in rural areas. Therefore, going forward our co-mandate will be to empower projects that seek to establish industries in rural areas so that development can be enhanced at grassroot level,” he added.
And Southern Province Permanent Secretary, Namaani Monze has called on the institution to actualize their loan facilities that reflect various value chains in the province in an effort to promote industrialization, job creation and improved livelihoods for people within the province.
Dr. Monze has explained that there exist numerous value chains especially in the agricultural and livestock sector in the province, however full growth is hampered due to lack of funding opportunities for farmers to expand their business potential.
“We are producing a lot of agricultural and livestock products in this province however because of lack of funding opportunities, farmers are limited to selling these products in their raw form. Therefore, we request your institution to enhance the current loan package to enhance the development of industries as these will improve the social economic plight of people in rural communities,” he explained.
However, Chief Mapanza of the Tonga speaking people in Choma District has urged CEEC to simplify the application process saying the current application process disadvantages citizens from rural areas from benefiting from the empowerment package from the institution.
“The current application process for the various loan packages requires one to submit their details online. This process disadvantages our people in rural areas because most of them are illiterate and don’t have access to gadgets that would allow them complete the application process online which disadvantages and discourages applicants,” he explained.
“Instead can there be a provision for people to apply as has been done before through hard copies which can be submitted to relevant authorities locally as this is an all-inclusive way to ensure no one is disadvantaged from this process,” Chief Mapaza added.