CDF projects left in limbo could be defunded

CDF projects left in limbo could be defunded

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

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Projects that do not get off the ground within six months of approval by the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) unit face the possibility of being defunded, CDF director Kedesha Campbell has warned.

Campbell issued the caution at the CDF committee meeting of Parliament yesterday after it was noted that one project, which had been approved for St Andrew East Central the constituency represented by former Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips had been with the implementing agency for two years. The project was being resubmitted for approval yesterday.

“I, as the director, will have to take an executive decision to take back those monies, because we should be able to, after projects have been approved, not have them sitting in agencies for over six months. You do the project with the expectation to implement,” she advised Members of Parliament (MP).

“If you create a project, MPs, create it with the intention to implement. After six months the money should either be sent back to the CDF or a new project should be written,” she stressed.

Campbell noted that there were issues which had led to the delay of the project in question, including people living on the premises where a homework centre was to be established.

The novel coronavirus pandemic also affected implementation, she noted.

“After approval today we can get that project implemented in the shortest possible time,” she said.Committee chairman and MP for St Andrew East Rural Juliet Holness suggested that an end-of-year cumulative assessment should be carried out on CDF allocations where there are funds remaining for that year or previous years. She said these residual amounts create confusion and the impression that some MPs are expending more than the allocated $20 million per year.“I have realised that we have MPs with funds for varying reasons that they are reallocating two years hence, and it keeps moving. What it does is cause some confusion where the AG (auditor general) sometimes mistake persons spending over $20 million, which is not possible, and it's because people would be spending money that is unspent from previous allocations that left the CDF [and] went to the [implementing] agency,” Holness said.

She pointed out that in her first term as MP, for example, residual funds resulted in expenditure on constituency projects amounting to $27 million.

“I'm going to charge all MPs that it behoves us to understand that our constituents need this money and we are the same ones who come to Parliament and grandstand and argue how we need more. If we do not manage the $20 million that we get, well, we could not dare ask for more,” Holness stressed.

The committee chairman also urged MPs to coordinate with the CDF unit to ramp up sensitisation sessions to get constituents to better understand the strictures of their CDF allocations and the nature of the projects that can be undertaken.

“It is to your benefit, especially those of us who have large rural constituencies,” she said.

The CDF director advised that MPs now have the option of virtual consultations, and reminded that those who do not have a consultation in two years, as per Ministry of Finance regulations, should not receive project funding.

“Projects will not be taken to Parliament for approval. We have to adhere [to] and maintain the principles and standards of the CDF,” Campbell said.

The committee approved the implementation and reallocation of funding for 35 projects across 26 constituencies yesterday.


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