Friday October 20, 2017
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MPs Happy With Common Fund, But Unhappy With Delayed Releases

In addition to monies given to the Assemblies, all Members of Parliament (MPs) are also given money from the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) to help them initiate development projects in their respective constituencies. The share of the Fund that goes to MPs for projects is about 4 per cent of the total allocation to the DACF.

Hon. Samuel Ayeh-Paye, MP for Ayensuano in the Eastern region, said the Fund has been very helpful in supporting the development of his constituency.

Progress

Citing a number of projects he has used his share to support, he said it has been very helpful. The projects he has used his funds for include the extension of electricity to six communities, the construction of a six classroom block, and the supply of computers to the public schools in the constituency. In addition, since becoming MP in 2009, he has regularly allocated 30 per cent of his share to support the education of brilliant but needy children in the constituency.

Hon. Alhassan Dahamani, Independent MP for Tamale North, said he has used his share of the Fund to sponsor the education of many children in his constituency, provided financial support for women groups to engage in agro-business and purchase furniture and sports kits for some basic schools. Mr Dahamani who is in his first term as a legislator and has received releases for only two quarters said, the idea to give MPs a share of the Fund to help their constituencies is very good. He said it has helped him to supplement the efforts of the District Assembly in the areas of education, water, farming, sports development and women empowerment.

Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP for North Tongu lauded the MPs allocation of the Common Fund, saying his share from the first two releases of last year, helped him to provide food processing machines for women groups, rehabilitate schools and provide computers for ICT labs in primary schools in the constituency. He said he has also provided scholarships to some needy students and skills training for some youth in the constituency.

Challenges

The MPs, however, were generally unhappy with some aspects of the scheme. According to Mr Ayeh-Paye the Fund is woefully inadequate, a situation which leaves him and many MPs with no option than to supplement the funding of their projects with personal money. The inadequacy is compounded by the negative effect of the delayed releases.

It has been very helpful, and it is good that we have it, but the delay is a major problem for us, the MP added.

Hon Dahamani was also unhappy about the general problem of delays in the releases, indicating that it particularly threatens the education of children beneficiaries. He said the late releases negatively affect the MPs relationship with the constituents since the constituents do not understand the situation, and rather think the MPs are insensitive and are withholding financial support, when in actual fact there is no money.

Mr Okudzeto said his main complaint with the MPs Fund is the delay in its release. Generally, all the MPs were of the view that the Constituency Project Fund for MPs is a good aspect of the DACF and must be maintained, and possibly enhanced.