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ARTISTS are shocked that government wants to criminalise the repayment of empowerment loan.

Comedian Sarafina Nthenga has expressed disappointment at Government’s call on artists to pay back the youth empowerment loans without engaging them.

Ms Nthenga says the new dawn administration should have conducted an assessment to evaluate how beneficiary artists were fairing before asking them to pay back the loans.

In 2020, the Patriotic Front government set aside K30 million as Presidential Arts Development and Empowerment Scheme aimed at improving the arts industry with a year repayment period.

The Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) entered into a partnership with the National Arts Council (NAC) to disburse and manage the Presidential Arts Empowerment Loans which saw over 152 artists benefit.

Recently, Ministry of Youth, Sport and Arts Permanent Secretary Kangwa Chileshe said Government will not scrape off any loans which were paid to artists but indicated that effective January month-end, beneficiaries would be required to present their payment plans to the ministry.

But in an interview with Millennium Radio, Ms Nthenga says the approach taken by the Mr Chileshe is wrong as it has made the issue to be politicised and resulted in cyber bullying for many artists who benefitted.

She has however indicated that her cooperative KOPALA Empire is ready to pay back the K187, 000 to avoid further victimisation.

Meanwhile, Good Life Investments under Mulaza Kaira, popularly known as Macky II has also indicated willingness to pay back the loan as soon as possible.

Mr Kaira says it is not surprising that the ministry has reminded the artists to pay back the money because every revolving fund is meant to be paid back.

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