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Vote to increase welfare allocation irks CDF head

Published:Thursday | April 30, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Robert Montague

MEMBERS OF the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) committee on Tuesday voted along party lines to increase social housing allocation from $1.5 million to $2 million and maintain the amount for welfare at $2 million, despite strong objection from head of the CDF Unit Moveta Munroe.

The dissenting voices of committee members Mikael Phillips and Denise Daley could not influence the resolve of Everald Warmington, J.C. Hutchinson and Shahine Robinson, whose majority vote on the issue becomes the new policy for the CDF Unit.

Munroe had proposed that the amount for social housing be increased to $2 million and the sum for welfare reduced to $1.5 million.

Wrong direction

"If we are not careful, the entire $15 million could go into welfare-type projects, which I don't think was the intent of the CDF," Munroe told members of the committee.

"I think it is a most unfortunate direction to take the CDF Unit," she declared after the vote.

"Surely, one should be able to look back at some point and see that this was funded out of the CDF. We have to be able to look at something tangible out of this exercise," Munroe said.

Warmington disagreed with the head of the CDF Unit, noting that it was "the discretion of the MP as to how they would like to have this disbursed in a manner to assist their constituents".

Munroe had warned that this decision would result in $7.5 million of the $15 million allocated to each

constituency utilised for

intangible projects.

At present, there is a mandatory $1 million each earmarked for social housing as well as welfare under the CDF.

Munroe explained that with the additional $2 million each being set aside for social housing and welfare, this would increase the total sum allocated for economic enablement benefits to $6 million. Further, Munroe pointed out that another $1.5 million for consultancy would leave members of parliament with $7.5 million to carry out infrastructure and other tangible projects.

In his comments, Phillips argued that MPs should see more value for the projects to which CDF funds are disbursed.

He urged committee chairman Dr D.K. Duncan to delay the vote until the nine members on the committee are in attendance.

However, with the quorum being four for the CDF, the committee chairman was obliged to yield to Warmington's call for the vote.