Govt must distribute DSIP funds fairly

Editorial, Normal
Source:

The National, Friday October 30th, 2015

 THE distribution of District Services Improvement Program (DSIP) funds has been a contentious issue since the O’Neill Government took office.

The Government maintains that it has been in distributing the funds to the 89 districts throughout the country while the Opposition has accused them of discriminatory practices.

With two months left before the close of government accounts, Opposition members like outspoken Bulolo MP Sam Basil are overly concerned that they will not get their total DSIP funding for 2015.

Basil told The National this week that his district had received only K4 million of the K10 million budget allocation and it was uncertain whether the balance will be paid before year’s end.

The Deputy Opposition also questioned Finance Minister James Marape on Wednesday whether the remaining balance of K15 million DSIP funds would be paid by the end of the financial year or will be rolled over to next year.

Basil stressed that the DSIP allocation this year was K15 million for each district, an increase of K5 million from the 2014 allocation.

In response, Marape said: “The additional K5million is money specially designed and quarantined for health and education infrastructure. It’s money that is parked at the National Planning Department waiting for districts to submit plans for education infrastructure and plans for health infrastructure.”

He urged all provinces and districts to submit their health and education infrastructure plans to National Planning so that funds could be released.

Finance Secretary Dr Ken Ngangan provided further clarification yesterday, saying the remaining balance of DSIP and Provincial Service Improvement Program (PSIP) funds will be paid before the close of government accounts.

All districts have received K6 million and the remaining balance of K4 million will be paid to the districts before the close of government accounts.

Despite fears by Basil and other MPs, Ngangan said the remaining funds will not be rolled over to next year.

“Both Government and Opposition have received theirs and I want to assure the people of this country and their MPs that the remaining balance will be paid before the close of accounts. We still have two more months to go before the close of government accounts and because of the government’s priority programmes in health, education and infrastructure, we have given assurance that the funds will be paid before the close of accounts this year. The government is committed to the people and we have special intervention programmes in provinces and districts in priority areas of health, education and infrastructure development throughout the country.”

Ngangan also clarified that the disbursements of the funds to the districts and the provinces was based on government cash flows.

“They were budgetary allocations by the Government and it will be paid once the funds are available. If we have budget appropriations, that doesn’t mean that the provinces and districts automatically receive all their funds. It depends on the cash flows. MPs in the government or opposition all received their K6 million. We have given assurance that the funds will be paid to each districts and provinces before the close of account.”

Moreover, Ngangan pointed out that the Finance Department did not differentiate between Government and Opposition MPs in the disbursement of DSIP and PSIP funds. 

“Whether an MP in the opposition of government, everyone gets it, there is no distinction. Some MPs in opposition are complaining but that is politics. We are not only paying DSIP and PSIP funds to MPs in the Government.”

We hope the assurance by the acting Finance Secretary allays fears and concerns by MPs, especially in the Opposition.

Vanimo-Green River MP Belden Namah had been one of the main critics of the Government’s handling of DSIP funds when he was Opposition Leader.

Namah had claimed that Marape has been “discriminatory and unfair” in the distribution of DSIP funds.

Despite the assurance from his departmental head, the onus is on Marape to ensure that Opposition MPs get their full funding for this year.

He should be mindful that further delays in the disbursement of funds will not only hurt the Opposition MPs but more importantly affect the delivery of vital government goods and services to their electorates and people.

 

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