Ensure accountability of the Constituency Development Fund

Published On: June 1, 2023 07:36 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

The recent announcement by Finance Minister Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat regarding the allocation of funds under the 'Parliamentary Infrastructure Development Program' has raised concerns among the public. While the government claims that this program is different from the previously criticized Constituency Development Fund (CDF), it is important to remain vigilant and take necessary measures to prevent any potential misuse of funds by lawmakers. The CDF, in the past, had been marred by allegations of corruption and favoritism. Lawmakers were accused of channeling funds to their own supporters and party loyalists, rather than addressing the genuine needs of their constituencies. This gross misuse of public funds undermined the people’s trust in their elected representatives and resulted in ineffective utilization of resources. Finance Minister Mahat's assurance that the funds allocated under the new program will not be misused is a step in the right direction. However, mere assurances are not enough to instill confidence among the public. Concrete measures must be implemented to ensure transparency, accountability, and proper utilization of the allocated funds.

Firstly, there should be a clear and transparent mechanism in place for project selection and implementation. The role of Members of Parliament (MPs) should be limited to recommending projects, while the actual implementation should be carried out by relevant line ministries. This would prevent MPs from exerting undue influence or diverting funds to their preferred groups. Additionally, there should be a robust monitoring and evaluation system to track the progress and impact of projects funded under the program. Independent auditors or oversight committees should be appointed to ensure that the allocated funds are used for their intended purposes and are benefiting the communities they are meant to be served. Moreover, it is crucial to establish a grievance redressal mechanism where citizens can report any potential misuse or irregularities in the implementation of projects. Whistleblower protection should be put in place to encourage individuals with knowledge of corruption or malpractice to come forward without fear of reprisals. Furthermore, public disclosure of project details, including budgets, timelines, and beneficiaries, should be made mandatory. This would enable the public to hold their elected representatives accountable and monitor the progress of projects in their constituencies. Regular updates and progress reports should be accessible to the public through government websites or other appropriate platforms.

To enhance transparency and reduce the scope for corruption, competitive bidding processes should be adopted for project contracts. This would ensure that projects are awarded to qualified and competent contractors based on merit rather than personal connections or political affiliations. Lastly, the media and civil society organizations have a crucial role to play in monitoring the implementation of the Parliamentary Infrastructure Development Program. Investigative journalism and public awareness campaigns can help shed light on any irregularities and keep the government and lawmakers accountable. It is important for the government to learn from past mistakes and take proactive measures to prevent the recurrence of corruption and mismanagement of public funds. The success of the Parliamentary Infrastructure Development Program hinges on its ability to promote inclusive and sustainable development, prioritizing the needs of the people over personal or political interests. We urge the government to take immediate action to implement the suggested measures and ensure that the allocated funds are used effectively for the betterment of our communities. By doing so, we can restore public trust in the parliamentary system and foster a culture of accountability and transparency in our governance processes.

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