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MPs fault councils on CDF handling

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PRESENTED FINDINGS— Jooma

Members of Parliament (MPs) Thursday took turns to accuse councils of abusing Constituency Development Fund (CDF) allocations.

The MPs also accused Local Government institutions of leaving them with no authority on CDF allocation management.

The legislators deliberated on the matter for almost the whole afternoon session in response to a report by the Parliamentary Ad hoc Committee on CDF and Water Development Fund Guidelines.

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Chairperson of the committee Ralph Jooma told the House that the committee established that funds were abused and, in some cases, not being spent on intended initiatives.

Some of the councils that were mentioned as culprits are Nkhata Bay, which spent about K33 million on the installation of traditional leaders, while in Rumphi and Chitipa districts, councillors were found to have championed projects under CDF without involving MPs.

Jooma told the august House that some council officials spent the funds on other expenditures and shunned meetings with the committee’s members when they visited the councils.

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This, the committee argues, was against the CDF guidelines that make the legislator the overseer of the fund, meaning that a legislator is supposed to be involved at every level of a project.

“A member of Parliament has to know who is being paid, is paid for what, and what amount,” said Jooma, adding that there would be a special account for the CDF so that allocations would no longer be misused.

Meanwhile, the committee has made recommendations that have been adopted by the House, including that it should recruit CDF desk officers to be at every council.

“The desk officer will be handling CDF files and matters,” Jooma said.

Some legislators, including Mulanje Bale lawmaker Victor Musowa, proposed that the package for the fund should be increased from K40 million to K100 million.

However, Jooma agreed that there was a need for the increase but he was not specific on the amount, stating that it would be subject to approval by the Ministry of Finance.

“Almost every contributor has spoken about it [increment]. This is a fund that is watched over by 193 members of Parliament and over 1,000 councillors, unaccounted chiefs and all the citizens of Malawi. It has a lot of eyes on it so increasing it will not be bad,” he said.

The CDF was established in 2006 to help in implementation of projects at constituency level.

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