The Member of Parliament for North Dayi, George Loh has mounted a strong defence for the allocation of over GHc96 million from the District Assembly Common Fund to MPs for projects in their constituencies.
An amount of 61,639,413 million cedis was allocated to Members of Parliament to undertake development projects and a further 34,244,118 million cedis to enable them monitor those projects for 2014.
The administrator of the District Assembly’s Common Fund received more money this year compared to previous ones to enable it allocate enough resources to key priority areas in the assemblies.
In total, the administrator received more than 1.3 billion cedis representing 5 percent of national revenue to distribute among the assemblies this year. An increase of 19.18% compared with what it received last year.
MPs are supposed to police the utilization of the fund. But the over GHc96 million allocated to the legislators has raised eyebrows as to who is going to monitor how the money is spent.
Local governance expert George Kyei Baffour has described the allocation as illegal, unconstitutional and a drain on national resources.
He maintained that MPs are supposed to be facilitators of development projects and not development agents.
Mr. Kyei Baffour also rejected the allocation because it is going to turn Parliament into a procurement entity, which it is not.
MPs are rather supposed to check the executive by overseeing the utilisaiton of the fund, he asserted. “MPs are chief inspectors of the country’s physical project,” he assessed, questioning how the legislators are going to account for the monies allocated to them.
But Mr. George Loh said he was shocked that with all his experience in local governance, Mr. Kyei Baffour totally got his argument wrong.
Sounding livid, he charged Mr. Kyei Baffour to submit himself into proper schooling on the common fund so that he would avoid “misinforming the public” with his views on how the fund works.
He explained that MPs are not even signatories to the MPs Common Fund. They only make certain recommendations to the Assembly to support the needy in their area.
MPs are accountable to their people and for that matter they have development projects in their constituencies they can pinpoint to. MPs buy ambulances, build clinics, support hospitals and build schools among other projects, he defended the allocation.
“I am shocked and surprised by Mr. Kyei Baffour’s problem… MPs are supervisors of projects in their constituencies, in the sense that we are supervisors of the national purse, and if this money is going into our district who is a better person to ensure that the money is being used for the projects that are earmarked in the medium term development fund?”
He also justified the allocation because it would be “wicked” for any MP to go to bed when the constituents are struck by a disaster especially when immediate support is not coming from NADMO.
He therefore described claims by Mr. Kyei Baffour as “extremely unfortunate”.
But Mr. Kyei Baffour sharply rebutted Mr. Loh’s defence describing it as ridiculous.
“If you are a Member of Parliament, the fact that you have been voted by the people and you go to your community and they say they need classrooms, they need toilets, they need roads mean that you have to be given money to satisfy these expectations of the people. That sounds ridiculous.”