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Tardy MPs - Members of parliament slow to request CDF money

Published:Friday | January 22, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter

With less than three months left in this fiscal year, some members of parliament (MP) are yet to apply for the full allocation of the money budgeted to them under the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).

Each MP has been allocated $20 million under the CDF this year from a total of $1.2 billion.

But up to Wednesday, only $727 million, just a little more than 60 per cent of the money, had been disbursed.

Projects valuing a further $96 million had already been approved by the CDF division, which operates out of the Office of the Prime Minister.

"We have given them until the end of the month to submit their projects," Pauline Scott-Blair, assistant director of the CDF project management unit in the Office of the Prime Minister, told The Gleaner yesterday.

Scott-Blair did not name the tardy MPs but noted that money from the CDF could not be carried over into the following year, so the members of parliament could lose the portion not applied for.

Rolled over money

However, Scott-Blair said if the project was approved before the end of the current fiscal year, the money could be spent in the new year.

According to the assistant director, the delay for some MPs could be linked to the late change in the amount allocated for the programme.

"There were actually some projects approved but because of the change, they had to be withdrawn and fresh consultations held," Scott-Blair said.

Initially, $2.4 billion was budgeted for the CDF this year but the allocation was cut in half in September when the Government revised the Estimates of Expenditure.

At that time, MPs on both sides of the House bemoaned the decision to cut the fund, which they argued was valuable to their constituencies.

The CDF was established by the Bruce Golding administration after its 2007 election victory as a way to improve the effectiveness of MPs in their constituencies.

Its main thrust is to promote human and infrastructural development at the community and constituency levels through the establishment of sustainable development projects.

Last year, $2.36 billion was disbursed under the fund.