JIS News

A total of 1,241 projects were approved for funding in the financial year 2008/09, under the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
Director of the CDF Programme Management Unit, Moveta Munroe, tells JIS News that from the total allocation of $2.4 billion, 58 per cent of the amount was spent on physical infrastructure, including road repairs, water systems, community centres, and the rehabilitation of sanitary conveniences.
“We also had 29 per cent going to human and social development; eight per cent to economic enablement and five per cent to disaster mitigation. Built into all of that is the welfare and emergency fund and social housing. Welfare and emergency funding is what the Member of Parliament uses to assist constituents with funeral expenses, medical expenses, school books and things of that nature,” Miss Munroe explains.
The CDF is a dedicated fund set aside for community development activities in the designated 60 constituencies in Jamaica and was started in February, 2008. For the first year, every Member of Parliament (MP) was allocated $40 million to develop projects in their constituencies.
Miss Munroe explains that the projects under the CDF are not selected solely by the MPs, but from consultations with the communities and once there is an agreement between MPs and the community, the project document is submitted to the CDF’s Project Management Unit, along with the relevant estimates.
“Once we have vetted the project document and we have ensured that it has met our requirements, we then take it up to the Parliamentary Committee for approval. Once it is approved by the Committee, the funds are disbursed in a matter of days to the implementing agency, so it then becomes the responsibility of the implementing agency,” she points out.
“The programmes that we ask the MPs to focus on should catalyse economic activity at the constituency level, foster local governance, improve delivery service and bring Government and the people closer together. The programme is also designed to improve the effectiveness of the elected representatives,” Miss Munroe says.
All projects are implemented through a Ministry or an agency of the Government. Miss Munroe explains that the responsibility of monitoring the projects comes through various channels, such as the implementing agencies, which are totally responsible for the projects, and the CDF staff, who are on the ground.
“One of the methods that we use is photos of projects, before, during and after. One of the things we try to ensure in our monitoring process is that we do get value for money. If we don’t think that there is value for money, we call in the auditors and then we ensure that we have value for money,” Miss Munroe says.
She emphasises that it is important that all projects are completed within budget. “That is extremely important, so timing is everything, because based on the whole economic situation, you realise that prices tend to move as the dollar moves. So, in terms of infrastructure projects, we try and get them out as soon as possible after they receive it,” she says.
In terms of challenges Miss Munroe says that, “if you look at the number of projects that were approved, you can see that there clearly were some challenges, not just on our side, but on the side of implementing agencies as well, because they are doing this in addition to the other jobs they have been doing.”
“I must tell you though, we have been very pleased with the service that we are getting from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the National Works Agency (NWA), which are very short lived projects in terms of the NWA. There is a lot of road patching that is being done with the CDF funding,” she tells JIS News.
In terms of RADA, Miss Munroe says this agency is very good at the farming projects, which include both livestock and plants, and some management training.
“Of course there is a lot of new technology right now in terms of farming and it’s also one of the ways in which our farmers are getting some real good training and some financial support from the Members of Parliament, through the CDF,” Miss Munroe points out.
For the future, the CDF’s Management Unit is moving to set up a Constituency Project Oversight Committee that will also play a part in not just selecting projects through the Member of Parliament, but also in monitoring the projects.
“We are (also) going to be looking at projects this year that will definitely lend themselves to employment generation and really moving the community forward,” Miss Munroe says.
Out of the total of $2.4 billion allocated in financial year 2008/09, 98.5 per cent of the funds were utilised in projects. This year, $40 million has been allocated again to each Member of Parliament to fund developmental activities within their constituencies.

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