By Alfred Sasako
FURTHER details have emerged about annual funding for the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) grant, which is intended to fund micro economic activities in the nation’s 50 constituencies.
A breakdown of figures obtained by Island Sun shows it is not just the CDF grants that is covered in the funding. It also shows Solomon Islands and Taiwanese taxpayers have been sharing the cost of the CDF grant over the years.
The figures show that an average of $6 million is allocated for CDF funding each year. Of this amount, the Government contributes $5.2 million, while Taiwanese taxpayers’ support is $1.4 million.
“This has always been the formula used in the co-funding arrangement of the CDF grant,” officials said.
According to one official some $1.2 million from the Government’s total funding is allocated to Members of Parliament to use at their discretion.
“Its use is the discretion of each Member of Parliament. And this is where the concern is. By allowing MPs to have easy access to such a huge amount of money, the whole thing is open to abuse, which is what members of public suspect,” the official said.
The official said the Taiwanese component is usually paid to MPs’ Constituency Bank Account, which probably explained why very little goes into the Constituency accounts.
The contribution by Government on the other hand goes directly to pay preferred suppliers whose goods and services have been used by politicians.
Meanwhile it has been revealed that MPs who have used up their overdraft facility (OD) with banks have been requesting the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) to be issued cash cheques instead of direct payment to their Constituency’s bank account.
“What many of them are doing increasingly these days is once they know the CDF grants are ready to be disbursed, they simply pick up the phone and call the Permanent Secretary to ensure their allocations are paid in cash cheques,” the official said.
“They are doing this to avoid the bank deducting their dues from Constituency payments,” the official said.