Legislators have demanded that the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) which is currently pegged at US$50 000 be adjusted to US$75 000 because of inflation.
Treasury has already marshalled about US$5 million in CDF funds to be disbursed to the 210 legislators as soon as the constitution for the fund has been adopted by Parliament.
Speaking in the National Assembly, Norton legislator Temba Mliswa said the more Parliament delays in disbursing the funds, the more they will lose value, adding that the promised US$50 000 is now equivalent to US$25 000 because of inflation.
“Madam Speaker, you would appreciate that the issue of the welfare of Members of Parliament has taken a lot of time. As you are aware, you know that the money is being finished. We want to know if the US$50 000 that we are going to receive is in US dollar or bond notes.
“Do you know that it is now US$25 000 as we speak because of inflation. How are we going to attend to such an issue because I believe you did not consider this issue that inflation is now at 50 percent, so we were supposed to get $75 000? The amount should be inflation adjusted because at the end we are going to get nothing,” he said.
The demands from the legislators come at a time when the government is facing a serious financial challenge, owing to low exports, low foreign direct investment inflows, lack of credit lines and deindustrialization among many other challenges.
Sore dire is the situation that the country’s health sector is currently funded 80 percent by development partners, while HIV/Aids response is about 85 percent donor funded.
About 80 percent of condoms and family planning products used in the country are also being provided by development partners.
Despite these critical issues, the government last week splashed huge sums of money acquiring the latest Isuzu double-cab vehicles for the chiefs in the country.
However, had the money been channelled towards CDF, it could have gone a long way in helping to service various boreholes around the country to ensure women and girls don’t get to walk long distances in search of water.
Constituency Development Fund could also be used to repair health facilities in rural areas which would go a long way in ensuring universal access to health services by rural communities, at a time government has failed to provide funds to service dilapidated health facilities.
According to Honourable Mliswa, CDF augments government’s development programs and that the more it is delayed the more it affects the development on the ground.
The fitness-trainer-cum legislator said some of the Members of Parliament had borrowed from the banks in anticipation of the US$50 000 CDF adding that receiving less amounts will only create problems for legislators.
“What can you do with US$5 000 that we are being given? People had gone to the banks to borrow on the strength that they would receive CDF. We take every word that you say in this House and we go and borrow funds. Now, you are going to give me US$5 000. How am I going to repay US$50 000 when I was only given US$5 000?
“My point – that are we being serious about the welfare of the people when we give them US$5 000 instead of the US$50 000 that you talked about?
“Issues such as the chiefs’ motor vehicles, funding is given. I am not saying they should not have them but equally as well, Members of Parliament should also receive what they will have been promised,” he said