Give us real power - Crawford
East Rural St Andrew Member of Parliament Damion Crawford wants elected personnel to be given powers to decide on the implementation of projects in their constituencies.
"There is a democratic capture happening where the elected has very little say over the distribution and decision-making process. This democratic capture creates an unfair and unfortunate situation where the demonstration is against the MP, but the decision is not in the hands of the MP," the first-term parliamentarian said.
Decisions, such as which roads are to be constructed or repaired, rest with agencies such as the National Works Agency. The role of the MP is simply that of a lobbyist.
reduced to mendicants
Crawford, whose constituency is in need of several infrastructure upgrades such as roads, bridges and retaining walls, said that the current system makes a mockery of democracy.
"The oversight that is there should remain, but those who face the people should have greater intervention and greater participation in the decision making in what is necessary to achieve for the people who place their confidence in him or her," the MP reasoned.
He added, "We have been reduced to a bunch of mendicants seeking to get favour from those who we would like to like us, and that is unfortunate and unfair to the people who put us here."
The MP said that the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) is one of the few areas where the elected official is able to direct the use of state funds to bring benefits to constituencies. Arguing that East Rural St Andrew is 'never in and always out' when it comes to the allocation of funds for massive projects, Crawford said that he has had to rely primarily on the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) and CDF, to make significant interventions in East Rural St Andrew.
"Because of the demands of a very large rural constituency, we have been incapable of doing many welfare and sporting activities, and on occasions, Christmas work has been redirected to do road and water," Crawford said.
He pointed to improvements in Weise Road, which is now paved for the first time in more than 40 years as well as better roads in Taylor Land, as example of solid achievements under his watch.
Crawford used his presentation to call for the establishment of a fund purely geared at maintaining dirt roads.
"Some of these rural areas don't have the level of traffic, don't have the number of persons to legitimately claim that they should get an asphalted road. If there was a dirt road maintenance fund, there would be greater access even though it might not be the surface that we all want," he said.