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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

On Constituency Development Funds, 2nd Edition

A revealing recent exchange in parliament on Constituency Development Funds paints a picture of a corrupt and poorly administered fund. Yet, MPs still want it to be increased? 
Mr L. J. Ngoma (Sinda) : What has been the impact of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) had been on the socio-economic development of constituencies from inception to date? And when is the CDF for 2012 going to be released to all the constituencies?

Local Governmemt Deputy Minister Mr Tembo: I urge the House to pay attention as I give a comprehensive answer which is of benefit to all the 150 constituencies.

The ministry has not measured the impact of the CDF on the socio-economic development of constituencies from inception to date. However, there are two major studies which were conducted by Caritas Zambia and the Economic Association of Zambia (EAZ) on the impact of the CDF which are in public domain.

The findings of these studies indicated the following:

(i) many constituencies have been unable to account for the CDF resulting in the loss of public funds in some cases. Furthermore, studies show that there is a greater need for the communities and the districts to harmonise project proposals and projects in line with national plans. This will help to maximise the impact of resource utilisation;

(ii) each constituency should prioritise the projects in a coherent strategy which is linked to national goals and has the time frame of five or more years if they have to have a long-term impact;

(iii) the current CDF guidelines of 2006 are too weak in enforcing its provisions, as the legal mandate of the institutions administering the CDF lack the necessary legal backing;

(iv) there is no effective co-ordinating mechanism at the local level to monitor and streamline the multiple sources of funding flowing to the grassroots; and,

(v) the audit reports have revealed massive corruption in the utilisation and management of the CDF which is as a result of lack of reporting and poor oversight. Sadly too, despite the reports of corruption, culprits have not been punished.

It is clear that without a proper legislative framework, avenues for redress and strong systems for accountability, decentralisation schemes, including the CDF, are more likely to bring corruption to the local level than achieve greater gains in development.

The ministry may consider commissioning a study to assess the impact of the CDF on the socio-economic development of constituencies from inception to date from the Central Government perspective when it mobilises funds for the consultancy as there is no provision to undertake such a programme of work in the 2012 National Budget.

The CDF for 2012, whose allocation is K1 billion per constituency, and translates to K150 billion, has been scheduled for disbursement to all the 150 constituencies in June, 2012

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