SDC fee still major issue
More than 11 months after Everald Warmington, chairman of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Committee of Parliament, warned the Social Development Commission (SDC) that he would bring pressure to bear on the agency if it fails to halve its management fee for implementing education assistance programmes funded by the CDF, the issue remains unresolved.
Each of the 63 members of parliament spends about $4 million annually from their CDF allocations on education programmes, which include tuition assistance, back-to-school initiatives and book grants, for which the SDC charges a five per cent fee per project. However, last year, CDF committee members demanded the fee be cut to 2.5 per cent, since the five per cent amount deprives needy students of getting maximum benefit.
"There are very good reasons why they (SDC) should consider reducing the amount, otherwise we will make some demands on them which they can't meet right now," Warmington told the May 30, 2016 CDF committee meeting. However, on Tuesday, during the first meeting for the new parliamentary year, there was confusion over whether or not the rate had been slashed. Members were signing off on projects when the member of parliament for Manchester North Western, Mikael Phillips, asked head of the CDF Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister, Moveta Munroe, if the matter had been resolved. She could not provide a satisfactory answer.
"The SDC, with their commission, wasn't there a discussion about adjusting it, or is it still five per cent for the educational part of it?" he queried.
"The commitment given from the minister is that for this year, on education (projects), it will be 2.5 per cent, so that it will be removed," Munroe responded.
"Need to bring this to a conclusion!'
When Mikael Phillips went on to point on that some of the project documents showed a five per cent charge, Moveta Munroe offered this solution:
"We have not had it confirmed if this (rate reduction) has been transmitted to the executive director (Dr Dwayne Vernon), which I will try and do during this week and advise the meeting next week."
"I think we need to bring this thing to some conclusion," Phillips added. When he questioned whether the 2.5 per cent rate would be retroactive, Munroe was still unable to provide a clear answer.
"I will have to clear that before the disbursement is done, and we will have to adjust it accordingly," she said.