Tuesday, August 11, 2009

CDCF: When they want it, they get it.

The Constituency Development Catalyst Fund (CDCF) essentially provides additional resources for development at the local level by channeling money to constituencies under the management of Members of Parliament. The introduction of CDCF to Tanzania is thus supplementing the existing funding mechanisms for local government. Importantly, it may not represent an increase in funding, since funds may be taken away from other parts of the budget in order to finance the CDCF.

Your Member of Parliement just passed the bill last month, in case you didn't know. Article 63. (2) Of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania states “The second part of Parliament shall …have the authority on behalf of the people to oversee and advise the Government of the United Republic and all of its organs in the discharge of their respective responsibilities in accordance with this Constitution”

The CDCF will seriously undermine the ability of Parliament to perform its oversight function independently and thus effectively, since a legislature that is involved in introducing and/or implementing spending proposals compromises its ability to question these initiatives and therefore to hold the executive to account.

The CDCF also creates a parallel structure alongside the existing local government structures and this increases the burden on the already overwhelmed local government officials. This parallel structure also increases the cost of administering local funds by using money which could have been used to increase the resources available for the projects themselves.

MPs claim that they act as ‘ATM machines’ in their constituencies because citizens assume that they have the resources to solve many of their problems. They claim that their income is not sufficient to cater for expectations from voters and that CDF will relieve them of this burden.

However, the role of MPs is to work with citizens to hold the government at central and local level accountable for resources allocated to solve development problems in their constituencies. MPs are not obliged to address these problems themselves unless they choose to do so willingly and have the necessary resources. This is the job of the executive. To take on the role of the executive will compromise their ability to perform their legitimate role.

MPs argue that they are expected by their constituents to deliver development projects despite the fact that they do not have control over where these projects are allocated.

Again, they get it wrong. MPs should work in collaboration with CSOs to educate citizens on the role of MPs. MPs should not make philanthropic promises to voters during elections unless they are sure of their ability to deliver these promises once elected. Normally campaign promises should either be in line with the candidate’s party manifesto or promises that the candidate intends to implement from his or her own sources of funding as philanthropic activities.

MPs claim that TASAF is not democratic hence CDCF will provide a more democratic means of empowering communities at the grassroots level to take an active role in their own development.

But MPs should seek to improve whatever challenges exist in the implementation of other local funding mechanisms, such as TASAF and the Local Government Capital Development Grant since they already seek to address the core purpose that CDCF seeks to address without the additional problems likely to result from the CDCF.

The challenges facing the very concept of CDCF and its implementation make it a highly risky venture for government to undertake. Further, evidence from different experiences at community level, and from previous studies like PEFAR, indicates that the poor quality of service delivery at the local level is not due to lack of funding, but more to systemic weaknesses, poor capacity, political interference, low civic competency etc. This establishment of a CDCF is likely to make this situation worse rather than better.

Additionally, given the existence of other development funds which serve the same purpose as a CDCF in Tanzania, it is recommended that the systemic and systematic challenges compromising the efficient and proper implementation of these devolved funds are contended with, rather than creating an additional fund which is likely to only exacerbate existing challenges.


Iddy said...

I do have one question, does Bunge provides check and balance? To my understanding Bunge is acting like a branch of government.

Semkae said...

Bunge is 1) an oversight body 2) a law-making body.