Warmington shuts down calls for increase in CDF funds
Calls for an increase in the $20-million allocation to members of parliament under the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) were yesterday shut down by Chairman Everald Warmington.
Manchester North Western MP Mikael Phillips pleaded on behalf of representatives of rural constituencies on geographical grounds.
"To give the same amount of $20 million to a rural constituency compared to an urban constituency is not doing justice to the constituency itself. I would love to see where it even starts with a conversation in that manner ... ." stated Phillips.
"What you are saying is that the rural constituencies should get a little bit more?" asked Warmington.
Phillips responded in the affirmative, but Warmington countered that there were rural constituencies that were smaller than urban constituencies, especially considering voter density. Making his case, however, Phillips said that many rural constituencies were connected by parochial roads and improvements would have to be done from the CDF allocation.
St Elizabeth South West MP Floyd Green also supported Phillips.
"The reality is that when the CDF started, we were treating with $40 million for each member of parliament a decade ago. Now when you compare that to $20 million in 2018, you realise it's just not feasible, especially as there is a clamour for members of Parliament to use the CDF to do more substantial pieces of work, and there is not a lack of willingness ... ," explained Green.
A recent $1.5-million approval for road improvement was more for appeasing residents than what was needed, he said, and the upcoming drought cycle would make demands on the MP harder.
Warmington responded: "Look here, I have been hearing this argument for a long while ... . Yes, it started at $40 million, but it was only for the first year (2008) ... . Budgetary constraints restrict the Government from going above that.
"You are talking about $20 million being a meagre amount. We were getting $15 million up to two years ago and it worked for us. Let the system work itself out ... . I, for one, would not advocate for an increase in CDF at this time. The funds are not there. We have to work with what we have."