By Tabora Bojang
National Assembly Members have rejected a proposal to exclude nominated NAMs from receiving constituency development funds, since they have no particular normal constituency.
The fund is created to help lawmakers to identify and implement development projects in their constituencies.
According to the 2024 budget estimates, each of the 53 elected members and 5 nominated members will receive D500,000 for use on development projects for their constituents.
However, Banjul North NAM Modou Lamin Bah questioned the move to include nominated NAMs in the fund, arguing that all the 5 nominated NAMs reside in constituencies whose elected representatives are to benefit from the fund anyway, and therefore giving it to nominated members too would lead to duplication of expenditures.
Bah’s motion was supported by Kiang West NAM Lamin Ceesay who charged that the CDF is paid to members to invest in their constituencies and since nominated NAMs are without electoral constituencies, they should not be entitled to the fund.
But several members including the Speaker, majority and deputy majority leaders of the National Assembly vehemently opposed the proposal and argued that it would tantamount to discrimination.
“In fact, some of the nominated members represent bigger constituencies than some of you [elected NAMs] do. For example, Fatoumatta Jawara is representing the women throughout the country which is bigger than you elected members’ individual constituencies,” Speaker Jatta said.
Deputy majority leader and member for Old Yundum, Abdoulie Ceesay said all members enjoy equal voting rights in the parliament and as such, there should be no discrimination in determining who gets the CDF.
Hon Bah was asked if he may consider withdrawing his proposal and he agreed, leaving the house to adopt the estimates as it were which will see each of the 58 NAMs receive D500,000 CDF.