By Philip Buda Ladu
The Constituency Development Fund (CDF), a 3% amount of the annual budget of each fiscal year allocated to lawmakers’ constituencies to finance community essential developmental projects in the grassroots has not been budgeted for since South Sudan gained independence in 2011.
The CDF is the visual channel through which legislators as representatives of the people in the grassroots directly take back service delivery to their constituencies from parliament.
The members of parliament normally liaise with their communities in their respective constituencies that they represent to identify community priority projects in essential areas of education, healthcare, clean water, roads and bridges among others for financing through the CDF grant.
Peter Lomude Francis, the Chairperson of the Specialized Committee for Constituency Development Fund (CDF) in the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA) however said since the establishment of the CDF in 2007 through the CDF Act, it was only twice that funds were allocated for it.
Article 4 subsection 2(a) of the CDF Act 2007 calls for the allocation of 3% of every annual financial year budget to the Constituency Development Fund account for the financing of community development projects in the constituencies that will be identified jointly by the MPs and the community.
Lomude told No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper in an exclusive interview that since the Committee of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) was established in the parliament in accordance with the CDF Act 2007; it was only twice that the CDF has been budgeted for.
“When it was established in 2007 it is only twice since the establishment of the CDF that a budget has been allocated for the constituencies,” Lomude told this reporter.
“According to CDF Act 2007, Section 4(2) (a) of the CDF Act it mandates that 3% of the annual budget goes to the constituencies for development and indeed for the last two financial years that the CDF was allocated it has got a positive impact in the countryside in terms of development especially in the areas of education, health, clean water and bridges,” Lomude underscored.
The CDF Specialized Committee Chair said for the previous, more than 10 financial years the CDF last came in the financial year 2009/2010, when it was budgeted for, adding that 2007/2008 and 2009/2010 were the only financial years that the CDF was budgeted for.
Lomude said they summoned the Minister of Finance and Planning to inquire why since independence the CDF has not been allocated funds.
“We raised a question to that and the answer given by the Finance Minister was that the country had been going on austerity measures, that’s why the CDF has not been budgeted for these years and has not been allocated any budget,” he stated.
Lomude said after he was appointed into the office, they were able to work within the short time to ensure that they return the CDF, because this CDF is what the people especially at the grassroots can really feel that services are coming to them from the parliament.
“I am happy also that the MPs stood with the committee when we requested that really this CDF should be reinstated, they were able to stand with us knowing that as being a representative of the people what makes us as MPs relevant to our constituencies is when we are able to ensure that services are extended to the grassroots, to the constituencies,” he said.
Lomude said when the 2021/2022 draft budget was tabled by the Minister of Finance and Planning, the 3% of the CDF was missing in the draft budget, but they worked hard to ensure that this 3% of the whole resources envelope that is meant for the constituencies was included in the budget and they succeeded in that.
“So, as we speak the budget that was passed by the Parliament for the financial year 2021/2022, what they know there is a budget, the 3% has been allocated for the CDF to the tune of 8.6 billion South Sudanese Pounds,” Lomude told this reporter.
He said the CDF Committee urged the Minister of Finance and Planning to adhere to the provisions of the CDF Act and ensure that in the coming budget, the 3% should be in the draft budget.
Lomude said they have budgeted for all those previous years that the CDF was not allocated funds from the financial year 2011 to 2019 and demanded that they should be paid in terms of arrears to supplement what is included in the budget because the community needs are enormous.
He added that even what is budgeted for the 3% may not be sufficient to support those community projects saying if those arrears are topped up to what is in the budget then it will help especially in the areas of development.
“Given the current situation in the country from 2013 there has been a lot of destructions that have happened, a number of schools were destroyed, health facilities, water points and all these, so we think that if these arrears are also considered it will especially supplement the little that is allocated for 2021/2022 budget to support these projects in the constituencies,” Lomude emphasized.
“We have got an account in the Central Bank. So the Ministry of Finance should release the budget that was allotted to the CDF into the account in the Central Bank then there after we will be able to ensure that we now look means of asking MPs to bring the community projects priorities and then the CDF will be able to determine if they meet the requirements for the CDF law provision then it will be approved so that work can start in some of these constituencies,” he affirmed.