Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Ent we know that?

 The Central Unit’s LifeSport audit #3 and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) 2012 audit of the Community Development Scholarship Programme (CDSP) bring the country face to face with a well-known truth: Government social development programmes are used both as an avenue to disburse State largesse to supporters of the ruling political party and as a cover for thievery.

Ent we know that?

Government social development programmes are patronised by citizens like you and me, ordinary people who get a food card on the down low, who knows someone who knows someone who could get you a grant from the ministry to fix the otherwise good-good roof, who has a family member working there so he/she helping me get a small thing under the table; you doh have to do nutten, you know.

Ent we know and participate in that?

In 2008 someone told me she had received a food card because she knew the lady distributing them. In 2012 I went to a wake, graciously offered to contribute some wake necessaries and upon reaching the cashier at the supermarket, a well-to-do villager pulled out a food card saying, “Doh spend yuh money, girl. I go pay with this” and promptly swiped a Government food card.

There are new hardwares established specifically for the purpose of exchanging ministry cheques and vouchers for items other than for what they were intended. I was at a supermarket once and saw with my own two eyes a gentleman drive up in a spanking new SUV, walk to the cashier, asked for the bossman, and paid for bottles of vodka with his food card. 

Ent many of us know of similar goings-on?

So the LifeSport audit #3 and the PwC audit of the scholarship programme are but formal confirmation of what is already well known and fully participated in by governors and governed alike in a perverse, complicit game of I-eating-ah-food and you-could-eat-ah-food-too. 

Complaints about the scholarship programme were sent to the Integrity Commission in 2009. In 2013, four years later, the Integrity Commission responded that its investigation findings were sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Presumably the existence of the PwC audit would have assisted the DPP’s office with formal findings compiled by accounting experts. Yet there has been no word since.

LifeSport audit #3 would perhaps meet a similar fate: much time passes before nothing is done to those clearly culpable for scandalous wrongdoing.

Ent we know that?

But do we know that 14 years ago—in June 2005—Cabinet accepted a Monitoring and Evaluation Policy for the social sector? What does that policy contain? Was it adhered to then and is it being adhered to now? Whose responsibility is it when Government policy is breached? Who bells the fat cats?

Do we know that in the 2004/2005, there were over 150 social programmes run by various ministries or that in fiscal 2005/2006, the Government spent approximately $4.1 billion on social interventions? 

Did we notice that the 2014 budget allocation “for core social sector ministries and social sector programmes” fell just short of $22 billion, to which should be added the supplemental allocation sought recently?  Did we notice that from 2008 to 2012, social sector government funding grew to $22 billion from $15 billion? 

 Do we know the name Mr Andrew Asibey? He is an evaluation adviser seconded to the Ministry of Social Development from the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation. From April 2003 to October 2004 Mr Asibey led a project with ministry technocrats that realised the third in a series of tools to monitor social programmes. The manual is called 'The framework for monitoring and evaluating social sector interventions' and I suppose it is now dusty from disuse.

In that manual are comprehensive methods of monitoring and evaluating programmes in the short and long term. One core recommendation was an information system to develop and maintain a database of all social interventions and to track all expenditure and clients. Evaluations were to be done quarterly or semi-annually by both technocrats and independent individuals, for example, the manual interestingly said, a nutritionist might be required to assess the nutritional content of hampers.

Mr Asibey went so far as to develop in fine detail a tracer study instrument to gather accurate and reliable information on the socio-economic circumstances of trainees sometime after they have participated in programmes. This instrument would help with questions like: Where are the past trainees now? Where are they living? Are they gainfully employed? Have they been fully integrated into society? Have positive changes in attitude and behaviour been sustained? Have they stayed out of the criminal justice system? 

But ent we know no one takes on things like these?

LifeSport, however, delivered on one thing; the 2014 budget described it as having a two-year cycle due for completion in July 2014. 

Deadline met!