By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
During a press conference with the Leadership of the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), Hon Halifa Sallah told journalists that the D300,000 “[CDF] fund should be scrapped because it promotes self-perpetuating rule of National Assembly members”. In his view, the [CDF] fund should be allocated to “the Council’s Local development committee”.
However, Hon Suwaibou Touray of Wuli East believes otherwise and that the D300,000 CDF should be increased to D500,000 every year. According to Hon Touray who won a second term in Parliament under a PDOIS ticket, “2021 was the first year when we introduced that budget line and we’ve been trying in 2020 but it did not materialise. We were studying how to do it. Me and a few people initiated it and I was the secretary to the ad-hoc committee”.
Hon Touray explained how they conducted a study and managed to convince the National Assembly Authority to create a budget line for the CDF. He explained that this was part of the National Assembly’s autonomy. “The National Assembly member [NAM] can think of any project or projects which will amount to D300,000 but having in mind that D10,000 must be paid back to the Consolidated [Revenue] Fund as tax. The Contractor that’s going to take that [contract] must pay tax,” noted the Wuli East Parliamentarian.
Explaining how he spent the first D300,000 received in 2021 Hon Touray says that his “project was a borehole, one community of Darboe Kunda in Wuli East. It’s about 15 compounds. So, they have sufficient water now. I am helping them to extend the water so that they can have a garden as well. That will help maximise their protein intake and vegetable intake in their diet. That will go towards balancing their diet”.
“What I am recommending to other members is to increase that amount because we see that it impacts directly to the people,” said the Hon Touray. Our reporter asked the Hon member how much he wanted to increase the CDF because Hon Halifa Sallah recommended for the CDF to be scrapped and allocated to the Local Councils instead? The Gainako reporter highlighted that the former member for Serekunda and PDOIS Party Leader believes that the usage of the CDF was self-perpetuating rule.
Hon Touray responded by referencing what they’ve learned from their study on “the other Parliaments that we had visited. We learnt that there is a CDF. If you go to Ghana, when last I was there it was something like 1 million Cedis. The peculiar importance attached to it is that it will go to projects that are not feasible for the central government”.
Exchange rate sites indicate that 1 million gh¢ is over D6.8 million.
Hon Touray explained that while the Central Government may focus on the bigger towns and providing them water and electricity, “but then the NAM will look for areas where it will be so impactful for the community. So, I wouldn’t suggest scrapping it I will suggest increasing it to D500,000”.
The Wuli East NAM noted the importance of having a milling machine which he says will reduce the workload of women who have to resort to pounding grains and fetching water in the provinces. These are all areas he intends to intervene in, with the CDF.
“You can have four milling machines and if it’s boreholes you can get two boreholes for two hamlets and this will eradicate water dependency in a community,” said the former Journalist and Editor for Foroyaa Newspaper.
In Hon Touray’s view, he sees “that 53 elected Constituencies having projects like that can go very far in eradicating poverty in some of those communities”.
In his concluding remarks, Hon Touray explained that “it is a norm with me to spend more than half of my committee income on my people”. When asked to clarify if this was different from his base salary the Hon member noted that “my salary goes to my family but my income goes to my people, so I will keep on doing that because I see that it is very impactful”.
Another NAM informed Gainako that the average Base Salary for a regular NAM is D45,000. NAMs also receive additional per diems and allowances which altogether with their salary comes to around D110,000. This will vary based on travels and rank in Parliament. The Speaker is the highest paid followed by the Deputy Speaker, Majority Leader, Minority Leader and other NAMs.
About the Constituency Development Fund (CDF)
The Constituency Development Fund (CDF) is allocated to members of the National Assembly. The financial administration of the project is handled and managed by the Office of the Clerk who is responsible for awarding contracts. Meanwhile, it is anticipated that the NAM will consult their Constituency to identify the areas of intervention.
The amount of the funds allocated to each NAM is D300,000 each year. This means that within a five-year term, a NAM can spend up to D1.5 million on developing its constituency. Below are some of the bullet points around the usage of the CDF.
- NAM identifies the project they wish to implement in the Constituency and develops a proposal,
- The Clerk then handles the awarding of contracts for the project to be implemented, and
- NAM works with the identified contractor(s) for project implementation.