By Omar Bah
The National Assembly Member for Kiang West, Lamin Ceesay, has called for the scrapping of the Constituency Development Fund, an arrangement that allows parliamentarians to facilitate the spending of funds dedicated and directly earmarked for development projects in their constituencies.
The funds vary from D500, 000 to D1 million that goes to fund any project identified and proposed by the National Assembly Member for any given constituency.
The fund is a political development tool that is increasingly gaining popularity among parliamentarians worldwide, moreso in developing countries. The Gambia could be considered as among the latest countries to adopt a CDF approach to development when the budget for it was approved by the National Assembly in 2021.
It was previously accorded to only elected NAMs but now it has been extended to nominated members too.
But addressing a seminar on accountability for the finance, public accounts and public enterprises committees of the National Assembly and relevant stakeholders on Wednesday, Hon. Lamin Ceesay said due to their oversight functions NAMs cannot be given responsibility to implement a budget.
“If we implement projects and we are the ones who play on oversight role in public finance, who will hold us accountable? So, I think this whole constituency fund thing should be scrapped,” Ceesay said. He further argued that the National Assembly should focus more on fighting corruption than implementing projects funded from public funds.
Leading anti corruption crusader and executive director of Gambia Participates, Marr Nyang, said government doesn’t take the National Assembly very seriously and until that changes, the fight against corruption will be difficult. “Parliament needs to stand and insist that the government do what is right.”
The NAM for Upper Saloum, Alagie Mbow, said laws alone may not be able to entirely stop corruption, but “one important thing is that individuals should be contented and realise that corruption is bad. We need to start teaching our kids at an early age on how to be good leaders,” Mbow said.
Human rights activist, Sait Matty Jaw, said when individuals or institutions spend public funds, they should account for them and producing resolutions and report is not enough. “The National Assembly should start biting to hold government institutions accountable. Those who are doing good things should be rewarded and those doing otherwise should be punished,” he said.