By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The Gambia Parliamentary Newsletter (GPN) has been reliably informed that the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) previously made available for elected members to implement projects in their constituency will be increased to D500,000 and also be available to nominated members.
Since Parliament gained autonomy in 2021, the National Assembly’s Authority has been in charge of Parliament’s financial administration, making decisions on the vehicles Parliamentarians are to receive and the CDF. Since the implementation of the CDF elected members with constituents could apply to implement projects to the tune of D300,000. However, for 2023 this amount has been increased to D500,000 and is now available to nominated members as well.
It’s important to note that Parliamentarians don’t receive the money, instead, contractors are paid by the National Assembly Clerk to complete projects identified by National Assembly members in collaboration with their Constituents. It’s understood that a bidding process is initiated which has already commenced for the 2023 year which has been increased to D500,000.
The CDF started at the end of the term of the Fifth Legislature. Our reporters have been writing about the implementation of the CDF projects and notably published Hon Halifa Sallah’s disapproval of the CDF which he believes promotes self-perpetuating rule. However, other members believe it helps to complement the government’s development efforts.
If all the D300,000 was accessed by the 53 elected members this would cost Gambian taxpayers D15.9 million every year and D79.5 million over a 5-year term. However, with the increase to D500,000 available to a total of 58 members, this can cost Gambian taxpayers D29 million every year and D145 million for a 5-year term.
The reasons for providing nominated members with a “Constituency” Development Fund, given that they are not elected members are still unknown. In fact, the 53 elected members already represent all the constituencies and electorates in the country. Perhaps, CDF awarded to nominated members could be used to complement the efforts of elected members. On the other hand, it could be used to implement projects for their political base and thereby promote self-perpetuating rule as argued by Hon Sallah.
GPN has been following the implementation of the CDF and has lodged a request for information on it’s implementation. Below are some of GPN’s publications including an expert piece from the Director of Research at the National Assembly.