MINISTER of Small and Medium Enterprises Elias Mubanga says there was so much financial indiscipline at the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) during PF’s tenure, revealing that politicians were accessing funds which had not been recovered.

In an interview, Thursday, Mubanga said it was difficult for SMEs to access money from CEEC in the past.

“We have got the CEEC and are also looking into the act. We have got the CEEC with K350 million. CEEC is under my ministry. And already I think about K90 million has already been in the CEEC account but that money as a Ministry because when we reviewed, when we looked at how the money was being accessed using CEEC as an institution, it was abused and I need to be very frank here. We want to tailor that fund now specifically as SMEs because SMEs, it was difficult for them to even access money from CEEC,” he said.

Asked if there was financial indiscipline at the commission, Mubanga responded in the affirmative.

He said it was for this reason that the government took long to fund the commission.

“Exactly, exactly. In fact, that is the right word. When we came in and tried to do our audit, there were so many millions of dollars which were contracted as loans and this money we needed to find out how it was used. Because you will find there was a lot of politics, politicians were accessing the money and the money has not been recovered. Now as a Minister in charge of this, we will make sure we will get to the bottom of it and whoever got money from CEEC without paying back, we will make sure that this money is paid back. That is why it has taken some time for the government to give the CEEC who are under my ministry the money. But the money now, like the first quarter, we have given out about K90 million,” Mubanga said.

He revealed that he would be announcing the new CEEC board in the coming days, adding that it was high time that SMEs had easy access to funds.

“I will be announcing the board probably next week so that they can look into management and then our SMEs would now access this funding which is empowerment from CEEC. That is why we have taken so long, and some people are saying the Minister is not working. For them it is to see the Minister dishing out money, giving out money, lining up people and giving them money. That’s when they will say the Minister is working. It doesn’t work like that,” said Mubanga.

“Within the year, CEEC has been allocated K350 million and we want to tailor that money to be in accordance with the Citizens Empowerment Act but also to make sure that the conditions for SME is reasonable for them to access the money. Not to make it so difficult. Listen, we have got SMEs who just want probably K2, 000. They want to start doing something like ordering Kandolo and start selling. We have got those SMEs who would want to get into chicken rearing and maybe they want K5, 000, K10, 000. So we want to make sure that at any stage of business they must have access to the empowerment programme that we have regarding finances using institutions like CEEC.”