By Kombe Mataka

COMPLEXION of the country will change in five years due to the disbursement of the increased Constituency Development Fund, says permanent secretary for special duties at Cabinet Office Nicholas Phiri.

Phiri said, when he featured on Diamond TV Live Programme, that the government would deliver on the disbursement of CDF in full.

The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development on Wednesday disbursed K805 million to all the 156 constituencies for the first quarter.

“Even in this particular disbursement, there are some people that were thinking government will not disburse. Even the K25.7 [million] they are people who are saying it is not going to happen. It is a systematic plan that we are following. If there will be challenges, we will come and it always happens in project planning. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan,” he said. “We as government are now making decentralisation real. It means that the local people must set their own priorities and the local people start right at village, ward, constituency level to the top. This is an agenda we must support. We will have teething problems but let us learn through the ropes and perfect the process.”

Phiri said all constituencies are going to receive the same amount of money, K25.7 million. “However, practically we also know that the spending power or absorption rate of these authorities is not at the same level, even the project needs are not uniform. So if you are going to say, we will spend money standard every quarter, the same amount of money without looking at their burn rate, what you risk doing there is to push in money where there is no capacity to spend,” he said. “…I think given the amount of work that we had, in view of the increased allocation, we are satisfied with how the timing, the scheduling and disbursement has been made so far.”

Phiri said the government opted to review the CDF operational guidelines following the huge increase of the fund from K1.6 million to K25.7 million yearly to promote prudent utilisation.

“The genesis of the CDF was not supported by any form of legislative framework. This was some time back in 1998. It started as a fund for what they called micro projects compensating the discrepancy in infrastructure development in the rural areas and the urban areas. So if you look at the guidelines that started with the micro projects they were not elaborate. In 2016, CDF Act was amended to conform with the Constitution. What the laws did was to provide the legal framework for the CDF and not the operational procedures,” said Phiri. “…The process of identifying which projects to do were not very clearly elaborated. That is why you saw that in most cases the members of parliament got so involved in identifying these and in some instances got themselves untangled in CDF scandals. Now when the amount was increased to what it is now, last year, it was not feasible that the same guidelines that regulated the K1.6 million were going to be applicable now because the increase came with an elaborate structure which was in three legs.


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