Treasury continues to disburse Constituency Development Fund (CDF) on quarterly basis contrary to a motion passed by Parliament in June compelling it to payout the money in full to legislators by December this year.
Members of Parliament (MPs) unanimously adopted the motion in a move seen as calculated to ensure projects were completed in time before the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
While acknowledging the need to disburse the funds in time to ensure accountability after the elections, an official from the Treasury attributed the delay to lack of funds.
The official said Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development is working on finishing disbursing the CDF in the third quarter of the 2018/19 financial year from January to March 2019.
Said the official: “The issue is dependent on whether we have the finances or not. We collect taxes and other monthly revenues and we disburse according to what is collected.
“We are surely taking this issue into account and in case we fail to collect enough revenue to implement the plan, we will have to borrow in anticipation that we will pay back when we collect enough. But borrowing is not the best option for we will have to pay back with interest.”
In total, Treasury has disbursed about K4.4 billion towards CDF alone in two phases from July to December this year.
In an interview on Wednesday, Nkhotakota South East legislator Everson Makowa Mwale, who moved the motion, expressed disappointment with the way government was handling the issue, accusing it of not respecting the voice of opposition MPs.
He said: “We appeal to government to change its approach. This government doesn’t want to support private members bills or any motion brought about by members of the opposition.
“They are giving us money in quarterly [chunks], first it was in July, and then in October and from experience, it is doubtful whether we will get the other allocations in the last phases, considering that it will be elections season.”
Out of the K25 million allocated to each of the 193 constituencies, Treasury has disbursed K12.5 million in the two phases, translating to K6.25 million each phase.
Soon after the adoption of the motion in June, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said pandering to the whims of the MPs would put pressure on cash flow for other ministries, departments and agencies, considering that government had in the first half failed to meet domestic revenue targets.
But Mwale has again brushed aside the explanation, saying government is just trying to be hostile because the motion was moved by members from the opposition side.
CDF finances projects at constituency level. The projects are implemented through local government councils and they include construction of bridges, school blocks and boreholes.n