Sunday, February 25, 2018

Constituency fund helpful if managed well


Mark Fraser

 The proposed $10 million constituency fund is the best thing to happen to people at the grassroots level since sliced bread. Only good could come out of this fund. Those who are opposed to it are not taking a big look at the objectives of the fund.

The opponents say the fund will become a “slush fund” for politicians. This argument goes for both the PNM (People’s National Movement) and People’s Partnership-controlled constituencies. 

Based on official figures, the Partnership MPs expect to collect $270 million. The PNM expects to get $130 million, the ILP gets $10 million. So the PNM cannot use its $130 million as a slush fund? 

The second argument

against the fund is it would not be properly administered. I suggest a caucus or management group comprising five persons: two well-known persons from the constituency, not necessarily party supporters or party hacks; a representative from Local Government; a known accounting rep­resentative; and the MP as chairman.

Three representatives must be signatories to the account of the fund. The MP cannot and must not be the sole signatory

to the account. Drawdowns on the fund must be prioritised. A list of projects to be undertaken in the constituency must be published for all to see in the constituency.

I foresee this fund really helping people in the constituency. Do not tell me Local Government is already charged with the responsibility for servicing the constituency. I have tried for months to get the Siparia Regional Corporation to clean a clogged drain but to no avail. If there were a fund available, I would have protested in front of MP Chandresh Sharma’s office until the drain was cleaned because I know he would have had $10 million to service the constituency.

So give the fund a chance. It can work once the checks and balances are in place.

John Jessany