MP funding from ministries
By Clint Chan Tack Friday, August 10 2012
MONEY for the $410 million Constituency Development Fund (CDF) will come from the re-allocation of funds from various government ministries, according to Finance and Economy Minister Larry Howai.
At the time he was responding to questions about where the money for the CDF will come from, and what kind of oversight would be provided to ensure the money is not misused.
Speaking with Newsday prior to the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair, Howai said, “The funding will come from re-allocating amounts from various ministries.”
He added, “The process will be finalised in the legislation when that is complete.”
The CDF initiative proposes that each of the 41 Members of Parliament in the House would each receive $10 million.
This means the 29 People’s Partnership MPs will receive a total of $290 million while the 12 Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) MPs will receive a total of $120 million.
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has expressed concern about Government using the monies it will receive through the CDF to give it an unfair advantage in next year’s Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and Local Government elections. Rowley, who is also Diego Martin West MP, said he would be forced to accept the funds under duress.
Laventille East/Morvant MP Donna Cox said, “I agree with Dr Rowley’s view wholeheartedly.” On whether or not she would accept the CDF money on behalf of her constituents, Cox said, “I will have to accept it. What other choice I have at this time.” She added that PNM constituencies have been suffering because “the Government has been focusing on spending on the PP constituencies.
Diego Martin North/East MP Colm Imbert said, “I will reserve judgement until I get a better understanding of how it is intended to operate. I doubt that the intention is to give each MP $10 million, but rather to allocate $10 million for projects in each constituency.”
Diego Martin Central MP, Dr Amery Browne, slammed Government for not consulting all elected MPs about the CDF, but choosing to speak to them “through the media” about the fund.
Browne questioned where the Government would find the money to sustain the CDF with no signs of new revenue in the country. He also claimed the establishment of the fund was a clear admission by Government of the failure of the Social Development Ministry to assist citizens and its failure to implement local government reforms.
PNM St Ann’s East MP Joanne Thomas said she would be directed by the party’s leadership with respect to accepting the CDF money, or not. Thomas said even though the CDF is yet to be implemented, it is already causing some challenges in her constituency in terms of demands being made by some constituents. La Brea MP Fitzgerald Jeffrey said he felt it would be better if the money be given to the regional corporations, instead of the MPs.