EVERYTHING being equal, musicians are supposed to be Government’s partners in development. Through their music, they highlight issues requiring attention by the State. Their music could talk about poverty, illiteracy, criminality and other social issues affecting the people. Similarly, they help in taking Government’s positive pronouncements to the people in a very creative manner. That is why the Patriotic Front administration thought it wise to equip musicians with state-of-the-art equipment as a way of boosting their trade. What is emerging now, however, is that there are some who intended to and actually used this plan to enrich themselves dubiously. They abused the scheme. It is unbelievable that musicians would go to an extent of conniving with the suppliers of the music equipment by getting low-quality goods and getting the change. That act of getting cash instead of equipment is unacceptable. This is blatant abuse of not only goodwill but public funds too. It is clear that the musicians who did that were not interested in investing in their trade but in consumption and living a luxurious lifestyle. Such a lifestyle can be sustained. The artists involved in this scandal have set a very bad precedent because they have defeated the whole essence of being empowered. What these thankless artists might not have known then is that what goes around comes around. The chickens have come home to roost and they must account for the money to the taxpayers. Swindling Government should never go unpunished irrespective of who has done it. Investigative wings should get down to the bottom of this before it becomes contagious. The revelation about the abuse is coming just when the new dawn administration is getting down to fulfil its promises to the youths. As part of its commitment to job creation, the United Party for National Development government has made an extraordinary increase in Constituency Development Fund from K1.6 million to K25.7 million to stimulate economic activities countrywide. Under this arrangement, youths and women have been urged to come up with cooperatives and bankable ideas to access funding. With what some musicians have done with the empowerment funds and the Citizens Economic Empowerment resources, Government should be much more careful in assessing the applications and in monitoring the use. This is evidence that some citizens submit ‘ghost’ proposals with a view to accessing funds. It is frightening that some citizens and suppliers of equipment could go to an extent of sharing the money after the State had paid them, by pretending that the equipment was received by the beneficiaries. In an economy such as ours, such wastage or pilferage should not be tolerated because it negates efforts by the State to genuinely empower people. What is worrying also is that there were a lot of musicians who were interested in accessing the same empowerment facility, but politically inclined persons were preferred. This is the result of the biased selection. It is now clear that the beneficiaries of the musicians’ empowerment scheme did not meet the set guidelines but were still preferred. Government should always aspire for meritocracy in the selection of beneficiaries for empowerment funds. Apart from setting guidelines, applicants should be skilled and knowledgeable in the business they wish to undertake. For instance, as youths and women are registering cooperatives, they should be mentored so that they are able to execute projects they intend to undertake. They should also understand what revolving funds are. When one individual or group defaults, they will deprive others on the waiting list. For once, let the empowerment funds produce the intended impact of stimulating local economies to grow.