Same as RCDF so Wale suggests to shift it to RCDF
By Gary Hatigeva
MEMBER of Parliament for Auki/Langalanga, Matthew Wale has suggested for the removal of Ward Grants from the Provincial Government level. He said it is a duplication of the Rural Constituency Development Funds (RCDF), with very little impact.
The Auki/Langalanga MP made this suggestion to the delegation from the Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS) at the Public Accounts Committee hearing this week.
While congratulating the Ministry in its Revenue Sharing Scheme initiative, Wale stressed that there is too much wastage and mishandle of funds at the provincial level through these form of grants, which are channelled to them through the Central Government basket.
He thought the ward grants is creating a duplicative role in what has been widely debated regarding the Constituency Rural Development Funds (RCDF), in both its negative and positive aspects.
He agreed that though small, sourcing of the ward grant down to the provincial levels are almost unlimited, while it is only for political slash fund.
Wale also suggested that the role of support towards wards through Provincial Governments should be given to the Constituencies whose programs deal more directly with the people.
He also warned that government should try and limit this fund or totally remove it.
He argued that it is pointless when there is struggle with the RCDF at the national level as it continues to be criticised.
“There is this continued entertainment of the gap in the provincial level, which is also on the same concern”, Wale said.
“This should give these governments the time to really focus on province wide service delivery, but if they think it is important, they must make a case”.
He further suggested that legislations dealing with these grants should also be shut down, and expenditures as such should go to the RCD Funds.
He said the RCDF is unlikely to go away from constituencies, but would likely be move at an arms-length from MPs, who will still be involved in directing and giving it overall planning budgeting direction, “but not running around trying to get invoices and things like that”.
This according to the Auki MP is also another example of the burden in which the RCDF is placing on MPs to serve only the narrow interests of the constituencies above the interest of the nation, looking at matters of national interests.
Wale said the practice under RCDF has prostituted the role of members of parliament to a large extent, and so the country must learn and also discourage such at the lower level of governance.
“Even the City Council is also practicing the same, which needs to be stopped”, Wale said.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry, Stanley Pirione when responding to the suggestions, explained that the Ministry has also seen this issue, and has countered it through the establishment of Ward development committees, who now deal directly with the grants.
Pirione explained that there are two forms of Ward grants, one is for MPA’s Ward tours, which is paid by the Province, and the other is the development grant, which is paid by the Central government.
He said the development grant is what was supposed to go down for development programs and activities of the Wards. He however adds that over the years, so much have not been accounted for. Which is why the Ministry decided to establish these Ward development committees, Pirione said.
He further adds that at this current stage, funds are channelled down to MPAs and then to the accounts of these development committees, who will then carryout the programs, and are now responsible for putting together reports on these grants.
Pirione said so far, the approach has worked and grants sourced down to Wards through this approach are slowly making an impact.
He revealed that some resistances were received from MPAs over this new approach, but the Ministry has seen that it is more transparent and funds would be used more wisely as intended.