Micro-project funding converted into discretionary fund
By Alfred Sasako
MICRO project funding administered by Parliament has been converted into discretionary funds giving Members of Parliament direct control over the use of half a million dollars each annually.
The information was contained in the new Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations (PER).
Titled Members Discretionary Fund (Reg 9) the change was made in 2015, according to the document.
Under the change, each MP is entitled to $500,000 in discretionary funding each year.
This means in total, the 50 MPs share $25 million annually.
It is not clear whether this is in addition to the $7.5 million given to each Constituency annually.
In the past projects proposed for funding under the micro project must first be recommended by a local leader such as a pastor, priest, chief, area council member and or provincial member.
Such proposal must also be endorsed by the Constituency Development Committee and signed by its Chairman.
This is no longer the case as the change has given MPs full discretionary use of $500,000 each a year.
It is also not clear whether the full amount can be drawn at one time or in tranches.
Constituency Allowance, which is intended for touring the constituencies, has also been increased by $8,000 each.
Constituencies have been divided into five zones, with Zone 1 (Temotu Pele, Temotu Nende, Vatud and Malaita Outer Island) topping the list at $28,000 a year.
Zone 2 with 12 constituencies is in second place at $27,000 a year.
Zones 3-to5 receive $26,000 in Constituency Allowance each.
Members draw these allowances even although many never set foot in their constituencies during the four-year term in office.