The National, Tuesday 21st August, 2012
By SHIRLYN BELDEN
MEMBERS of parliament can now access grants, particularly the District Support Improvement Programme and other constitutional funds, for service delivery in their electorates.
That is possible after the Ombudsman Commission lifted the direction under section 27(4) of the Constitution to safeguard public funds from abuse during the election period.
The direction was enforced for over two months by a working committee comprising of the Ombudsman Commission, secretary for Finance, Implementation and Rural Development Steven Gibson and secretary for National Planning Dr Peter Kora. The committee announced the withdrawal last Friday and said the normal process could now be dealt with by the two government departments.
Without the direction government grants can be accessed through the departments of finance, implementation and rural development and national planning.
The Ombudsman Commission was satisfied that the direction had served the intention of preserving the integrity of leaders and protect public funds from being misused during the election period.
Ombudsman John Nero said “The exercise has served its purpose and clearly stated that it was not intended to impede progress in any way. “The direction was intended to preserve first the integrity of leaders and second the public funds, particularly the DSIP and other constitutional grants.
“We received widespread complaints from the public regarding potential instances of abuse and note prima facie evidence of abuse both before and during election, which are subjects of ongoing investigation.” He said the OC’s assistance was in the interest of upholding the importance of compliance by leaders or public servants in serving the people.
Ombudsman Phoebe Sangetari said the direction was necessary as it protected the money that was now available for use.
A brief result of the exercise is as follows:
l Funds at bank before direction issued – K527 million;
l 456 applications received – K90 million;
l Applications considered – K37 million;
l Approvals (DSIP and other funds) – K29 million;
l Pending due to lack of information – K8 million;
l 395 applications not processed and forwarded to IRDD – K53 million;
l Amount preserved (437+53) – K490 million;
l Balance as at Aug 15 in banks (490+8 int) – K498 million, and,
l Draw down before issue of direction (verifiable) – K37 million.