A local think tank, the Policy Monitoring and Research Centre has recommended that the Constituency Development Fund in its current form be phased out
In its latest research report, PMRC says it believes that through the phasing out and readjustment of CDF as it currently stands, as well as the implementation of additional key recommendations to support a revised approach to decentralised, community development, audit queries can be reduced.
It recommends that community development needs should be addressed through existing systems of Ward Development Committees (WDCs) and Area Development Committees (ADCs).
The PMRC is also proposing the introduction of a longer-term development approach which it says would also reduce issues of uncompleted projects.
The organisation says issues of ‘unspent funds’ would be removed, as projects would be developed according to medium-term frameworks rather than following stringent one-year implementation rules.
“Grassroots issues can be channelled through these systems to the District Council for implementation. Funds would be distributed to District Councils and managed by Councils and sub-District structures without the involvement of MPs. The focus would be on strengthening decentralisation processes and ensuring that the national development agenda incorporates sub-level development priorities,” the report states.
It added, “It would be necessary to undertake a review of CDF guidelines and propose amendments to ensure more effective guidance, tighter controls and oversight in the use of CDF. Changes in communication strategies would need to be implemented to ensure communities are aware of CDF and their role.”
PMRC says key benefits of such a system would include resources will be pooled at Council level to allow for effective distribution and implementation of projects.
“This way, projects can be developed based on a medium-term framework to allow for long-term, sustainable development rather than a series of short-term, uncompleted projects. The Council can liaise with relevant government departments (such as Education and Health) to ensure integration in planning approaches. There will be one administrative system overseeing development projects, rather than two parallel structures of CDF and Grants, allowing for the effective utilisation of resources,” it said.
It continued, “Responsibility for projects will lie with the Council meaning they are in control of how funds are utilised, are accountable for all funds, and have the ability to change aspects to improve the situation. Political involvement in development projects will be removed, allowing funds to target real needs rather than be used as a campaigning tool.”
The report states that projects will be sourced and managed by representatives who live within constituencies on a full time basis and do not have other pressing commitments in Central Government.
“MPs will be able to focus more effectively on their responsibilities in Parliament and other Committees without needing to attend to administrative matters of CDF and more effective monitoring systems can be developed at a Council level with the aim for a dedicated team to monitor and evaluate all Council projects.