K178m ‘gift’

Main Stories, National


DAYS after passing the 2010 Budget, each Open Member of Parliament yesterday received K2 million to spend in their electorates.
There were whispers in the media of a possible vote of no-confidence, but this did not eventuate and the Opposition voted with the Government to pass the money plan on Tuesday.
In Parliament yesterday, MPs turned up at the B-3 conference room to receive their cheques.
A total of K178 million was paid out under the district services improvement programme (DSIP) to the 89 Open MPs.
Finance Department officers pointed out that the cheques were written out to  district treasuries and not to MPs.
The funds dished out yesterday are part of the K4 million allocated in the 2009 Budget for the DSIP for each MP.
By next month, a total of K14 million per district or a whopping K1.246
billion in DSIP funds would have been paid out to the districts over the last three years.
Sources said the K4 million had to be split, with K2 million to be paid later in order to avoid putting inflationary pressure on the economy.
The remaining K2 million for each of the Open MPs will be paid by next month, the sources revealed.
The Government claims that in recent years, it has made substantial investments in the districts in order to directly improve the provision of services to the majority of the people living in the rural areas.
In the 2007 Supplementary Budget, the Government allocated K4 million per district, or K356 million, to the DSIP.In the 2008 Budget, the Government allocated a further K6 million per district, or K534 million in total, and provided another K4 million per district, or K356 million, in 2009.
Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch, in his 2010 Budget statement, said this funding had been used to help improve transport, health, education, water, law and justice and agriculture programmes and services in each of the nation’s 89 districts.
In recognition of the importance the Government places on the DSIP, Mr Pruaitch said the Government had allocated a further K2 million per district, or K178 million, in 2010 to the DSIP.
But critics say unless these funds are spent wisely on infrastructure development, health, education and agriculture, they will be wasted.