EDITORIAL - Ms Munroe's call to pork

Published: Friday | February 8, 2013 Comments 0

Moveta Munroe either didn't get a proper job description, or misinterpreted its contents.

It is not her job to encourage the herd to dive into the trough, but to ensure that those who do get no more than they are entitled, and are held accountable for the rind they extract.

In that regard, Everald Warmington is right, except for his assumption that there is nobility in the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and in those parliamentarians who sup therefrom.

Indeed, who we should be inclined to praise are the MPs who have not, so far, called on the CDF. But any such action, we fear, would be premature. For now that they have been reminded of the narrow window left for them to dig in, expect a late rush on the pork barrel.

But first, Ms Munroe's conflation of roles. She heads a unit at the Office of the Prime Minister that reviews projects seeking financing via the CDF - the nearly billion-dollar fund that provides MPs with the opportunity to slosh taxpayers' money around their constituencies and engage in the politics of patronage.

The politicians, of course, wouldn't put it that way, and Ms Munroe's unit provides the trough with a veneer of respectability and the process of its operation a semblance of accountability.

Ms Munroe, however, may have given the game away with her display in Parliament this week of just how blurred the lines of demarcation - and objectives - the bureaucracy and the political Establishment may have become.

She reported to a parliamentary committee that several MPs had not filed project submissions for the fiscal year that ends on March 31. They are, therefore, in danger of missing out on their J$15-million allocation for 2012-13.

Even that observation is going far. If politicians have no projects to submit, that's their business. And so much the better, if they didn't. It ought not to be the job of politicians to directly distribute state resources, a job for which we have constructed an elaborate and supposedly non-partisan and permanent bureaucracy.

LOOMING DEADLINE

Yet, Ms Munroe has apparently been busy reminding MPs of the looming deadline if they are to access the CDF pork this fiscal year.

She said: "We have sent out three communications dealing with this issue, and officers are still massaging members of parliament to get their projects in. So, I am just thinking that next week we may have an abnormal number of projects coming in."

MPs who resist Ms Munroe's call to the trough are qualified for membership in the Order Against Political Pork, Patronage and Corruption, which we will create for those who disavow the CDF and slithering on its rind.

On Everald Warmington, we agree with him that MPs should not be reminded of the funds at their disposal in the CDF and the time available in which to lap it up. We disagree, however, that those who fail to do so are somehow irresponsible in representing their constituencies and should be penalised for so doing.

It may be true that laziness may have caused them to bypass the trough. This is a rare case where there is value to incompetence.

The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us: editor@gleanerjm.com or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.

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