Constituencies need development funds

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Hilma Nicanor standing in front of the N$1.6 million constituency office that was inaugurated in 2006.

KEETMANSHOOP – Hilma Nicanor, the councillor for Keetmanshoop Urban Constituency in //Karas wants government to introduce a constituency development fund to facilitate projects at constituency level.

Nicanor, whose office still expects N$12.7 mllion in funding from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resouces and from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare believes that such a fund, once implemented, will speed up and/or ensure the implementation of developmental projects targeting unemployment and poverty alleviation, as well as the reduction of crime.

The funds budgeted for the current financial year are supposed to be used for the upgrading of the Keetmanshoop Fonteintjie fish farm for N$7 million as well as for the planned recreational centre to cost N$5.7million.

Nicanor said: “The recreational centre will look at positive services for young people. They do not really have things to do and we always say the youth are keeping themselves busy with unbecoming behaviour but we often fail to provide an alternative. With this centre we want to offer an alternative, but the delay in the transfer of funds to regions continues to be a problem.”

Nicanor, however, shrugged off suggestions that the fund could be affected by corrupt elements saying that the same policies in place with central government bookkeeping should be in place for the fund.

“Regional level government is just another level of government. We are not autonomous and will still report and adhere to the laws and regulations of the central government,” she emphasised.

However, according to a Budget Brief written in 2010 by Albert van Zyl for the International Budget Partnership, constituency development funds have a negative impact on accountability and service delivery, a situation that most poor countries cannot afford.

However, it pointed out that it can be helpful to ensure project delivery in the fact of ineffective and corrupt local government structures, as well as to bypass central bureaucracies and channel funding directly to community level.

Namibia has been confronted with a good dose of uncompleted projects because of line ministries’ under-spending which has run well into N$1.2 billion in the last financial year.

Recent media reports indicated that by the end of the last financial year some ministries were still left with millions in their coffers with most of their develoment activities hanging in mid-air because of maladministration.

Some of the under-spenders are the Ministry of Finance, which returned N$470 million, the Ministry of Works and Transport, which returned N$280 million and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, which failed to use N$152 million. The Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture did not use N$51 million while Labour and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism failed to utilise N$48.3 million each.

By Jemima Beukes

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