By William Mbangula OSHAKATI A ruling Swapo Party politician has urged the trustees of the Regional Development and Equity Provision Fund (RDEPF) to work towards addressing the grim legacies of under-development in their respective areas. Speaking at the official opening of a two-day meeting of the RDEPF at Cresta Pandu Lodge Ondangwa yesterday, the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, John Pandeni said: “In most regions, towns and villages, the poorest often pay dearly for low quality services, poorly integrated land, transport, housing, and the markets impose high cost on users resulting in congestion and haphazard waste degradation of the environment. “Some neighbourhoods enjoy services and amenities while others are vast zones of physical deprivation and high risk. Against the said background I am urging you, the Board of Trustees to extend an ample opportunity to every region through equitable financial allocations, so that such grim legacies could be done away with,” he said. The meeting was called to deliberate on modalities, procedures and criteria for disbursing funds for equitable regional development. On this score, the minister pointed out that the endorsement and implementation of modalities, procedures and criteria has been long overdue and delaying it could no longer be entertained. “As a Board of Trustees, your primary concern should be the development of the regions and local authorities as provided for by the Act. In doing so, the first key challenge for the Trust Fund is therefore, to ensure that equitable and transparent allocation procedures are developed and maintained,” he told the gathering. He added that this would ensure that regional inequalities are addressed and that funds are located where there is great need and where development equity could be optimised. One of the most challenging tasks of the board, the minister noted, would be to ensure that financial management and reporting of the trust fund is conducted in a proper and transparent manner. This would guard against mismanagement of funds and improper use of power. In addition, he said, proper financial and progress reporting would also provide a measurement of how the board is achieving the intended objectives of the Act. Furthermore, the minister pointed out that proper and transparent reporting would assure all beneficiaries and indeed Parliament that the funds allocated are effectively and efficiently used. This assurance in the minister’s view is critical for regional and local authorities that are grappling with development problems on a day-to-day basis. In terms of the wide range of powers of the RDEPF as per Act 2000, the Board of Trustees, which is chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Regional and local Government, Housing and Rural Development Erastus Negonga, it is legally entrusted with the effective management and correct control of the funds. These include the income of the fund, which are also appropriated by parliament, raising of loans and guarantees, the issuance of negotiable instruments and acceptance of donations or contributions, among many other financial sources. Other members of the Board are: Gruzie Goseb; Hardap Region Governor Katrina Hansen; Samuel Nuuyoma, the Governor of Erongo; Teckla Zauana who is representing people with disabilities, and Nelao Kondombolo from Nangof.