Stick to the rules, CDF chairman warns colleagues
According to Everald Warmington, chairman of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), a failure to adhere to established protocol is at the heart of the problem in which Richard Azan, member of parliament for North West Clarendon, and other parliamentarians now find themselves indebted to suppliers of sporting goods and services.
Speaking on Tuesday during a committee meeting at Gordon House, he said this problem could have been avoided had the members of parliament (MPs) done things by the book.
"I am on this committee since 2007 and I know from the outset that there were some problems, similar to what you are having here. And it was decided then, at the early stage, that all implementing agencies should have an independent account for CDF, other than their regular accounts, whereby the funds would not be intermingled with their housekeeping allocation. Therefore, the CDF funds would be reserved totally and would not be touched and would be made available whenever that constituency needed it. What we are saying is that that policy somehow broke down somewhere along the line," Warmington stated.
Denise Daley, MP for Eastern St Catherine, charged the committee to look into how many other MPs might have been similarly affected.
KEPT IN THE DARK
"I think it is very important that we try to do some checks because I have similar problems, but I will be able to resolve them because I have very good relationship with my SDC office, so it's important for you to look at the other agencies to see whether or not such an account is being maintained."
Warmington then weighed in on the issue, declaring that he kept a tight rein on what was happening in respect of projects in his constituency, charging that rural branches of some implementing agencies might be kept in the dark by their head offices.
"They might not be advised that the fund is at headquarters and this is a deliberate action on the part of the head office, because I always keep a check on the release of funds for South West St Catherine. When I am told that there is no fund to honour a recommendation for a beneficiary from the constituency, I call the CDF office and say that money was released on such a date and such a time ... within five minutes I am told that they found the funds," he said.
The CDF chairman said this situation could have been avoided if fellow parliamentarians had heeded his advice from 10 years ago, warning as he did about two particular government agencies.
"From I came on this committee in 2007, I said leave INSPORT and leave Ministry of Housing out of the disbursement, and I see people still doing it. I said, from the outset, leave out INSPORTS and leave out Ministry of Housing, because I have the experience, and they come back and have the same problem," noted Warmington.