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EDITORIAL - Young Mr Brown discovers pork

Published:Monday | March 19, 2012 | 12:00 AM

He is bright-eyed, articulate, intelligent and well-meaning. But Arnaldo Brown faces potentially grave danger. The first-timer seems on the cusp of discovering pork - of the political kind.

Last week in Parliament, at the committee whose members somehow have straight-faced discussions on the functioning of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), he was the week's en passant, obligatory bad example.

It had something to do with invoices submitted by Mr Brown for projects, financed by the CDF, in his new East Central St Catherine constituency. They apparently amounted to $500,000.

Pauline Scott-Blair, the assistant director of the CDF Unit, was apparently frustrated with Mr Brown, a young lawyer, for not correctly submitting the invoices. It is a challenge, she complained, in dealing with the new members of parliament.

Whatever problems there may be, Mr Brown suggests, are technicalities. "Everything has been above board," he told this newspaper.

And perhaps they are. Which really is not the point.

The real issue here is of a parliamentarian and a member of the political executive who ought to be concerned with legislating and policymaking, assuming the job of a civil servant, directly delivering services.

More pertinently, less than three months into his membership to Parliament, Mr Brown is joining his fellows in the rendering and delivery of pork which, fundamentally, is what the $1.2 billion in the CDF is about. Given politicians' enjoyment of digging into the barrels and feeling the fat slither along the palms and through the fingers as they hand out taxpayers' resources as though they were their own, Mr Brown could, like others, soon find himself addicted.

Unfortunately for Mr Brown, the CDF Unit believes that the way to help him, and other MPs in his situation, is to have training sessions in the correct way to structure their project documents.

The right thing would be to discontinue the CDF, clean the pork barrel, and have Mr Brown advocate on behalf of his constituents and direct to the appropriate agency for social assistance. But that would offend politicians.

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