By Daniel Chigundu
LEGISLATORS have called on the government to increase the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) from the current US$50 000 to at least US$1 million per year.
Parliament this week adopted the CDF constitution that will see legislators begin to receive the important funds that have been talked about since 2013.
Currently, treasury has availed about US$5 million from the expected US$10.5 million budgeted towards the development fund.
According to a circular received by legislators, the funds will begin to trickle into the designated accounts as soon as all the required conditions such as the opening of the bank accounts and setting up of constituency management committees.
Speaking in the National Assembly, Mutoko South legislator David Chapfika said it was high time that government follow best practice, adding that what is being given at the moment is too low for meaningful development.
“Let me thank Honourable Chamisa for such a good motion that he has brought. I rise to support him but in my support, I would also want to place it on record that we had had a discussion with the Minister. He had said the money was going to be raised from US$50 000 to US$100 000.
“We were comparing this with best practices. For example, in Ghana, they give a million dollars per constituency per year, in Kenya; they give a million per year per constituency for development. This is done to ensure that the Members also do developmental work.
“The US$50 000 is a paltry 5 percent of what is in best practice in Africa. It would appear as if the government is not appreciating the work that needs to be done in uplifting the work that is being done in the constituencies,” he said.
Chapfika who also chairs the Parliamentary Committee on Budget and Finance added that “five percent is too little; we require that we get at least 40 percent or even a maximum of 50 percent. In 2018, we suggest that the figure be increased.
“We also want to come up with achievements that are being done in other countries. We should envisage a situation where we have one million dollars per year per constituency,” he said.
According to the constitution, CDF will be given to the 210 Parliamentary Constituencies which means, the government will have to budget about US$210 million up from the current US$10.5 million towards the fund in the coming budget if the call is going to be listened to.
However, in the past four years, the country’s national budget has been hovering around US$4 billion with employment costs taking about 90 percent of the total amount.