Monday, May 20, 2024

Government Issues New Guidelines to Streamline Approval and Implementation of Constituency Development Fund Projects

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The Ministry of Finance and National Planning, has issued new guidelines to further enhance the implementation of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) projects. The specific objective of these new measures is to quicken the implementation of CDF projects through limited delegation of the powers of the Secretary to the Treasury to the Principal Local Authorities Officers (Town Clerks/Council Secretary’s) for variations, if necessary, of estimates of expenditure and disbursed funds, within the CDF program in local authorities.

According to Treasury and Financial Management Circular No. 4 of 2023, dated 3rd January, 2023, the Secretary to the Treasury has delegated (through the Permanent Secretary, Administration, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development) the function of approval of up to a maximum of 25% variation of estimates of expenditure, to Principal Officers (Town Clerks/Council Secretary’s) in Local Authorities, where necessary. This is a significant change from the previous requirement where approval was obtained from the Secretary to the Treasury in line with Regulations No. 30 and 31 of the Public Finance Management (General Regulations) of 2020.

The new measures are expected to expedite the implementation of CDF projects and make the process more efficient. This will ultimately improve public service delivery through local authorities, create employment for the youth and women, and contribute to the socio-economic development of the country. Furthermore, circular no. 4 of 2023 will guide Principal Officers (Town Clerks/Council Secretary’s) in Local Authorities on variation of funds within the CDF program.

Key issues to note in the Circular are that:

The Controlling Officer, Local Government and Rural Development, is required to appoint Principal Officers (Town Clerks/Council Secretary’s) in Local Authorities as Sub-Warrant-Holders for them to approve variation of expenditure estimates and disbursed funds up to a maximum of 25% of the total budget provision of a particular sub-program within the CDF program;
Where the variation of expenditure estimates and disbursed funds within the CDF sub-program is above the authorized threshold of 25%, Local authorities shall continue to seek written approval of the Secretary to the Treasury;
Variation of estimates of expenditure and disbursed funds from community projects and secondary school boarding and skills development bursaries to youth, women and community empowerment sub-programs Shall Not be allowed. However, if the demand for the uptake of bursaries and skills development is below the stipulated threshold, variations in favour of community projects will be allowed and,
Variation of estimates of expenditure and disbursed funds from community projects, youth, women empowerment and secondary school boarding and skills development bursaries sub program to the administration sub – program Shall Not be allowed.
Going forward, the Government will continue to monitor the efficacy of these measures to ensure that the beneficiary communities are well-served through effectively implemented CDF projects. All Local Authorities are urged to familiarize themselves with Treasury and Financial Management Circular No. 4 of 2023, to ensure that some of the approval shortcomings in the implementation of CDF, are curtailed.

Meanwhile, the Finance and National Planning Minister, Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane, has announced that the execution of the 2023 budget has commenced smoothly. Since the start of the year a few days ago, the Treasury has so far released a total amount of K1.8 billion to finance public service delivery. The tabulation of funds released from 1st January to date, is as follows:

TRANSFERS: K419.3 million was released to finance school grants under the Ministry of Education and K217.8 million for the Secondary Schools and skills development training bursaries under Constituency Development Fund (CDF);
2) INFRASTRUCTURE: K210.5 million was released for the construction and rehabilitation of roads, bridges, and other public infrastructure projects;

HEALTHCARE: K200.5 million was released to finance the procurement of medical equipment and supplies, as well as the upgrading of health facilities in various communities;

AGRICULTURE: K100 million was released to finance various agricultural projects, such as irrigation schemes, and the distribution of seed and fertilizer to farmers;

SOCIAL SERVICES: K50 million was released to finance various social services, such as the provision of clean water, sanitation, and housing projects for low-income families.

The Minister emphasized that the smooth execution of the budget is a result of the Government’s commitment to ensure that public funds are used effectively and efficiently to deliver essential services to the people. He urged all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the funds are used for their intended purposes and that the projects are completed on time and within budget.

In conclusion, the Government’s new measures to further enhance the implementation of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) are aimed at quickening the implementation of CDF projects and making the process more efficient. This will ultimately improve public service delivery through local authorities, create employment for the youth and women, and contribute to the socio-economic development of the country. The government will also keep monitoring the measures to ensure that the funds are being used effectively and efficiently.

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